Traditional Leadership in Arochukwu: Should any Ezeogo live outside his domain? Aros answer the question themselves

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Ogbonnaya Akoma

In the beginning, all those who occupied traditional stools in the ancient kingdom of Arochukwu, from the Eze Aro of Arochukwu, the kindred Ezes (of Ibom Isii and Ezeagwu), to the Ezeogo of the nineteen villages and others including Eze Otusi, Eze Ezi, Eze Ekpe, Eze Akang, Eze Ekpo, Eze Oboni, et cetera, did live in their domains (in their villages) while holding such traditional titles and offices in the town of Arochukwu. None of them lived outside Arochukwu – either in the Diaspora or townships – and doing business, or carrying out other economic activities in such places while still exercising required traditional rites and functions at home (Arochukwu); and returning to their villages when the need arose.

With the passage of time, however, things seem to have been changing in this regard. Maybe, these Aro traditional leaders have decided to copy the examples and what happens among other such leaders of other places who choose to live outside their domains while ‘ruling’ their communities from those places. So, some Ezeogos of some Aro villages now live outside and ‘rule’ such villages from such places. A number of villages are involved in this regard today.

In this regard, Aro News went to town to get reactions of the people of Arochukwu, other people of Igbo land claim, are the bastions and custodians of Igbo traditions and cultural heritage, and therefore go ahead to emulate us (the Aros.)

In Agbagwu village, an Eze Ezi who spoke to Aro News, said it was an aberration, a negation and against the traditional norms and trite practices of Arochukwu Kingdom for any traditional title holder to live outside Arochukwu while holding such offices! According to him ‘This is an abnormality, absurd and had started in the nineteen-eighties the moment Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro was selected and presented as Eze Aro of Arochukwu in 1988. The unfortunate Eze Aro crisis led to the emergence of many abnormalities in the town of Arochukwu, some of which have persisted to this date. After the protagonists and players in the succession debacle had “messed up” Arochukwu through advertorials and disclaimers on the pages of Nigerian newspapers and the Press in general, some of them went ahead to initiate illegal and ‘abnormal’ institutions in the town. One of them was taking Aro traditional stool case then to the circular courts, while another was encouraging holders of traditional offices to live outside; and since these abnormalities started, Eze Aro Palace, as it were, has actually failed to address the issues properly, and these abnormalities have been taken as normal things today! Eze Aro Palace should have taken some concrete steps to stop the abnormalities by now; these things are not good for Arochukwu as other communities look up towards Arochukwu for guidance in traditional institutions in Igbo land. We can’t afford to disappoint them.’

Another Aro man, Mr Okereke from Amuvi, lamented the ‘Abnormal act of allowing Ezeogos to live outside their domains and still go ahead to rule their villages and carrying out traditional rites of such villages through their surrogates and what they call ‘palace secretaries’ and other persons. Since this malpractice started, things have not been the same in Arochukwu. Traditional rulers at the compound, village and Arochukwu town levels no longer discharge their expected functions in the areas of counseling, arbitrations in social disputes, imposition of necessary sanctions on erring individuals, settlement of social conflicts among villagers, proper observation of traditional rites with regard to traditional marriages, teaching of respect for elders, and training in personal conduct expected of ezi nwa Aro, et cetera. The situation is pathetic. In fact, the moment Okpamkpo Aro said they had instituted an office called “Speaker of Okpamkpo Aro” and went ahead to appoint an Enugu-based, Atani-born medic, I lamented that an abnormal thing had taken place in Arochukwu and that things had started falling apart in the town! Today, other abnormalities have followed that aberration in “Okpamkpo Speaker” appointment of an outside-living man who was never versed in the traditions and culture of Arochukwu.

‘So, any Ezeogo living outside his village is not in consonance with Arochukwu traditional norms and cultural heritage. It is abnormal. Every Ezeogo should live at home to be able to discharge his functions effectively. This is where I call on Okpamkpo, Eze Aro and Nzuko Arochukwu to take action necessary to check the abnormality in this regard now before it becomes late. During the reign of Mazi Kanu Oji (CFR) as the Eze Aro V11 of Arochukwu, no Ezeogo lived outside Arochukwu. Any Ezeogo who cannot live in Aro should not hold such office at all. The person should choose between being an Ezeogo and living at home, or live any where he chooses where he can be carrying out his economic activities and forget Ezeogo stool for those who live at home in the interest of Arochukwu. This is the right and normal thing to do.’

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Alex Chioma Otti

Banker and politician clocked 50 on the 18th of February. He was educated at Ngwa High School; Secondary Technical School, Okpuala Ngwa; University of Port ...