A short electronic mail from Lulu Press, Inc. Raleigh, NC, USA few days back was so exciting that it took my attention away from other issues earlier slated to be addressed by this column. Given its importance, I believe it is deserving to share the ‘good news’ with our readers for a better appreciation of the impact of this medium in world literary circles. Here it goes: “Congratulations Dr. Azubike Okoro! Your eBook, “Perspectives On Aro History & Civilization: The Splendour of a Great Past…” meets all retail distribution requirements. You are one step closer to your goal, as with this review, it is now queued for release in universal bibliographic databases ….” What’s the import of this, I guess, is one question in everyone’s mind. Why is it a big issue? Here is what it means, “Arochukwu history and civilization” as published in Aro News Book Series authored by Mazi Azubike Okoro & Mazi Ben Ezumah is now available and actually listed with online retailers world-wide such as Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Kindle, Nook, iBooks, the Lulu.com bookstore and the book data will be sent to major bibliographic databases, including Niesen and Bowker, etc. Moreover, brick and mortar book stores will be able to stock the title via Ingram at their discretion. The Aro News Book Series, lest we forget, is a collector’s item, each volume has articles authored by several umu-aro. A triology of sorts, the “globalREACH” accreditation which it has just earned allows readers to search and get details about Arochukwu history and civilization from any of the volumes wherever they may choose to shop. Am exceptionally excited because my singular desire, indeed ambition, for founding Aro News is being realized eighteen years after.
This step represents a concretization of the institutionalization processes for the publication. From onset Aro News was very well received by numerous readers locally and internationally. Also, we got inquiries from people who wanted all past editions. Some university libraries and a few archives made such requests but we were unable to satisfy their demands. Then individuals like Mazi Gibson lhe expressed desire to have the publication in a more handy size to enhance its storage for future generations. Coincidentally, these enquiries and reactions came at a time when Arochukwu kingdom was preparing to host the world in commemoration of the Centenary Anniversary of the Anglo-Aro war of 1901. Major events were earmarked for the celebration and guests were expected from the world over. The editorial board as at the time thought over these issues and decided that a collector’s item would be the best way to meet all the demands. Hence, Aro News Book Series which currently has three volumes was conceived. It features major articles that were contributed and published in Aro News Newspaper over a period of time, professionally edited to meet the standard of the house. The maiden volume was published in 2001 and at its public presentation in Abuja, Mazi Dave Okoro Imoko, erstwhile secretary-general of Nzuko Aro who presided, charged the editors to work hard enough to publish subsequent volumes. He quite understood the high risk and uncertainties that characterize the publishing business, so encouraged us to be guided rather by higher ideal of service to fatherland. Three years later, the second volume arrived in 2004 and the third subsequently followed in 2008. The reception those volumes received convinced me that it was a well thought-out project with potentials to uplift the kingdom. Thus, when the pioneer team of Aro News withdrew from active participation in the day-to-day running of the Newspaper, it did so with deep sense of responsibility and partly to allow time, energy and vital resources devoted to other worthy causes such as the book project. Indeed, we believed that having raised the standard to where it was locally then, it was only well-intentioned that we take Aro to the world stage via the book and website projects. We were convinced that Aro deserves to be known, seen and heard internationally and this can’t happen unless we take our views to where they ought to be taken. What is happening now is one of the results of this endeavor and foresight.
As most of us know, Aro Kingdom was almost at the peak of its greatness when the British imperialists invaded her territory, thus systematically imperiled and broke it up, a little short of decimation. Following that ugly experience, for over a century Aro history was deliberately suppressed, maligned and made to look obscure. This intellectual campaign was targeted at obfuscating and, possibly, obliterating Aro’s identity and contributions to world civilizations. Consequently, many versions and interpretations of Aro history emerged. How can the contributions of such a great civilization as the Arochukwu Empire be ignored or allowed to be misrepresented? Thus the cardinal objective of the book series is “to present Aro history as it is, not as perceived by outsiders”. Without disregard to past noble efforts to document and preserve our heritage, the founding of Aro News Book Series means that Aro now have its own history, told by her people and this accreditation has secured for it a seat in global marketplace of intellectual discourse such that suppression and misrepresentation is no longer possible. Aro News Online Editorial Consultant, Professor Chris Aniche Okorafor, described this initiative as one “aimed at debugging Aro history of some of the myths and folklore imported into it by some over enthusiasts….a data bank of Aro culture and historiology” This is an achievement like no other as the best way to kill a people is to distort their history, origin and essence and make it inconsequential amongst comity of nations. Aro News Book Series has succeeded in solidly laying foundation for comprehensive reversal of this ugly trend. Historians, academicians in the entire global arena have been empowered with hard data to challenge and reverse this trend. As was aptly captured in the parting editorial when we consummated a management handover to Nzuko Aro in 2006, Aro News has the largest repertoire and data base on Arochukwu anywhere in the world. Aro News brought educating seminal insight into each sphere. It set agenda for issues inexorably intertwined with continued survival of Aro society. It provided the platform for discourse, exchange of ideas, emergence of Aro intelligentsia and molding of informed opinion. When peace was a scarce commodity among the trio of Aro kingship stools, so much so that institutions such as Eke Ekpe was adversely affected, Aro News first broke the news and helped broker peace via its veritable platform which made ventilation of grievances easier.
As the Chairman of Aro News Publications Ltd, Mazi E.K.O Ivi muted during the last board meeting, the second decade of its existence two years from now offers rare opportunity to celebrate the medium and its role in rebranding the kingdom. I can only look forward to that historic event, and, God willing, the opportunity of having the three volumes as a testament of service to fatherland. Am happy and proud that our efforts and advocacy have paid off. Happy that structures have been put in place for Aro News Newspaper to succeed and endure for generations to come. Happy that Aro News Online is currently alive globally offering umu-aro in different abodes and the general public opportunity of news from home. Also happy that Aro News Book Series, just like the Omu Aro logo, Omu Aro wrapper, the Amaikpe square, and such other significant institutions that capture the essence of Aro, has become an integral brand of Arochukwu; one of the things by which Aro is simply identified. This singular achievement encapsulates my dream eighteen years ago, and it spurred the determination of the founding team and all the other stakeholders in the Aro News project. To God be the glory.