I read the above open letter to Eze Aro of Arochukwu that appeared on page eight of the December, 2015 edition of Aro News as written by Mrs Phil Adielechi Mbadiwe. In the letter, Mrs Mbadiwe had lamented the ‘…vicious verbal attacks on some people of Aro-Okeigbo by a few Aro men and women. I, therefore, humbly wish to draw your attention to the issue of negative name-calling that has fuelled crises in Aro kingdom, especially at Nzuko Aro and Aro village meetings….’
I can understand the feelings of Mrs Mbadiwe on the derogatory names some of us, Aro indigenes, call out on and ascribe to other Aro indigenes, which she reasoned ‘… have created a feeling of hate, dehumanisation, abuse of citizen’s rights and lack of trust among the Aro citizens….’ She went ahead to identify such derogatory names to include: Nwa mba ovia; nwa mba kemesi; onye na-abughi nwa Aro bu nwa mba ovia; ndi obiara Aro n’ukori; ndi ji okpa bata Aro, et cetera.
I join Mrs Mbadiwe to condemn this ‘evil.’ I am one of those who hate the use of derogatory names on fellow Aro indigenes by other Aro indigenes. To me, no Aro indigene should feel he is superior to the other Aro indigenes in any way. To me, here, all animals are equal. There is no basis for segregation. After all, the late Mazi Kanu Oji (CFR), Eze Aro of Arochukwu, had been quoted as clarifying during his reign that ‘Aru ulo mere Aru uzo; Aru uzo mee Aru ulo!’ By that he meant that the Aro at home derive their strength from the Aro abroad. He went ahead to substantiate what he meant by that during a meeting we held with him in 1986 September during a visit to his palace (as I was a public health officer serving in Arochukwu then.)
Earlier in March 1974, one of our teachers at ACPS, Amuvi, Arochukwu, the late Mazi John Obinali Nnanna (of Obinkita, Arochukwu) had told us (his elementary pupils then) to ‘behave as umu Aru always.’ By that he had meant there were (and still are) ways the Aro person behaves, and once there is a deviation from those normal ways, things being to go awry, hence the derogatory names begin to surface. This is just the truth.
Diaspora living is one of the characteristic features of Arochukwu. We live in the Diaspora – and as we do that, those affected copy and behave the way their host communities behave, some of which must be at variance with the trado-cultural values and orientation of the typical Aro person! This is underscored when we note the role nurture plays in one’s upbringing.
So, when the Aro man or woman chooses to deviate from the normal ways and the things the Aro are known for, those involved are derogatorily called names, particularly those who do not want to study, master and adapt to their ‘new’ home of Arochukwu; those who have never lived in the town of Arochukwu as to be orientated in the ways of the Arochukwu Kingdom.
So, we can actually be ‘nwa mba ovia; nwa mba kemesi; onye na-abugi Aro bu nwa mba ovia; ndi obiara Aro n’ukori or ndi ji okpa bata Aro. These depend on one’s behavior really. It is important to point out that there are those women married into Arochukwu that have, in works and deeds, become more Aro because they have chosen to be so. So, we must behave well always to be real Arochukwu persons, our outside upbringing notwithstanding.