The day was 30 December, 2015 and the event was Aro Carnival 2015, held at Mary Slessor Secondary School, Arochukwu – an event put together by a few citizens of Arochukwu under the Aro Carnival Management Committee ‘To showcase the rich cultural and tourism potentials of the ancient kingdom of Arochukwu to the world,’ according to one of the organisers, Mazi Samuel Aliche Oti (of Atani village, a retired customary court registrar and a member of the committee) on interview that day.
‘We are holding this uncommon event in Aro. We are doing it as a way of boosting our economy in Arochukwu and to showcase our cultural heritage such as Ibini Ukpabi, Osu Gwodogwodo, and to attract World Tourism Organization’s attention, and this will also expose our bad roads network to the people of the world for attention,’ Mazi Oti concluded.
In his own explanation, Ugwuakuma-born Eugene Okey Imuoh, the public relations officer of the organising committee and an ace broadcaster, ‘The Aro Carnival, which started last year as packaged by the like of Mazi Ndionyemma Nwankwo (a lawyer) is supposed to showcase the rich Aro culture and tourism, which could be harnessed into money-yielding venture and spinner for the people. The event is sponsored by some well-meaning Aro sons and daughters. Through the event such things as kokoma dance and mgbede pieces of Aro cultural heritage that are now going extinct could be revived.’
Sir Uche Okorafor of Amuvi, Arochukwu, also spoke on the issue. He had applauded the attendance to the event, when compared with the number that attended the maiden edition in 2014. ‘Apart from being well-orgainsed, the event managers had provided a cooling van that contained all sorts of drink and snacks those in attendance could buy to entertain themselves and their friends.’ He had told Aro News.
Before the event, rallies were held that took the orgainsers to nearly all the villages in Arochukwu through which the people were well-moblised for the event. The organisers had planned a gala at the same venue that night, to round off the colourful ceremony that many had described as second to none in the history of Arochukwu.
During the event proper that started behind schedule, many traditional groups performed. They included, in order, Ojojo Oborom Dance from Ibom village (clad in red blouse on green wrapper); Amarigwe Cultural Troupe (from Amannagwu); Women’s Wing of Nzuko Arochukwu (Owerri branch); Uda Cultural Dance group of Amuvi, Arochukwu; Eketensi Cultural Dance from Isimkpu, Arochukwu (that electrified and stole the show on arrival by 6.26pm); Otuobi Cultural Troupe from Amannagwu that thrilled the audience the more by their scintillating dance steps, and the famous Ekpo Masquerade Group from Obinkita that electrified the audience the most by the appearance of fearsome masquerades and their highly sophisticated displays that forced the audience to stay more to watch them despite the absence of flash light in midst of lurking darkness that made visibility impossible.
In all, about six thousand persons attended the carnival which caused unprecedented ‘go-slow’ when those who attended started going back to their respective homes. The ‘go-slow’ lasted for more than one hour as the reporter was unable to get an okada after standing close to one hour at the Slessor entrance because of that.