In August, 2016, I had travelled to Arochukwu from Port Harcourt. As usual, I travelled to Aba (Osisioma Junction), and then took another bus to Umuahia. At Umuahia, I had gone to Aro Park and bought a N1, 200-bus ticket to board another bus to Arochukwu after I had gone round the town (particularly Uwalaka Street where I had resided in the town of Umuahia before relocating my family to Port Harcourt that year).
Shortly after I had come back and boarded our bus that was waiting to be completed by two passengers, a cherubic-faced, dark-complexioned, tall and beautiful lady arrived and joined the bus to Aro. In the next ten minutes, the bus moved off and veered towards Bende Road, and headed for Bende for onward movement to Arochukwu.
As the bus was moving and galloping up and down the road, some passengers started discussing the bad state of the road that led to Arochukwu. While some discussants talked ill of the government at the federal, Abia state and local government levels, others blamed the local and representative politicians whom they said were compromising with those who awarded road contracts. They accused the local politicians of colluding with the contractors to abandon the road contracts after they (the local politicians) must have collected their percentage payments. The result is that, according to them, road projects were abandoned, including those that led to Arochukwu .
But the tune of the discussion changed close to the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Barracks at Ohafia the moment the dark-complexioned lady started talking. So, she spoke and said that we were then entering into the ‘forgotten town’ in Nigeria – Arochukwu. She continued to say that despite the big names she had been hearing about the town of Arochukwu since she was a kid till the journey, Arochukwu had remained a despised town in Igbo land. She was not done yet.
As we galloped and veered through one bad spot or the other, the lady went ahead to talk ill of the people of Arochukwu, condemning those who represented the town in political and general leadership of the town, mentioning names. She went ahead to talk ill of Arochukwu in many more ways. She said that it was because of her participation in slavery and slave trade that ‘Arochukwu is punished now’ in atonement. The lady went ahead to say that the three towns in Abia state that participated actively in slavery and slave trade (Arochukwu, Bende and Uzuakoli) ‘will never experience development and peace because of the inhuman treatment they had subjected people to in those days….’
At all those vituperations, I had kept quiet and listened. So, she continued. But when a lecturer at ASCETA (who was travelling with us) reminded her it was not only the three towns she had mentioned had participated in slave trade activities in Nigeria, she dismissed his explanation and quickly added another dimension to the whole thing. She had said it openly that another thing she hated about the Aros in particular was that ‘the people of Arochukwu are always pompous in their nature. They always brag about their nativity and town. They always bloat themselves as the toro toro does …. They always feel they are superior to other people. But when you want to go to their town, no road! Look at the type of roads that lead to Arochukwu. Next time any Aro person talks to me and brags about their town, I will shout him down…. No wonder they live everywhere and refuse to go home.’
It was at that point that I came in. I asked her if she actually thought every Aro person was pompous and bloated himself as a turkey. She answered in the affirmative, and went ahead to swear that she was right to conclude that ‘Aro people are pompous. Everybody knows this.’
Since that encounter, I have continued to ruminate over that lady’s aspersions that she had cast on the people of Arochukwu. I later discovered she was a police woman posted to Arochukwu, where she vowed never to serve in. In fact, when she alighted at the Magistrate’s Court-Market Road Junction, she had quipped ‘this is where the Nigeria police want me to live and work – I will never do so. Instead, I leave the force.’ As she said that, she left us.
Come to think of it: let me ask the question here: Are Aros really pompous people, braggarts? I posed this question to seven people (of Arochukwu origin) and another six people (non-Arochukwu indigenes). Four Aro persons (out of six) admitted many of us were really pompous while three outsiders admitted Aro people were really pompous (and boastfully braggarts).
If this opinion-sampling is anything to go by, it is not good that we continue to brag about, engage in unnecessary boasting sprees, and feel we are superior to other people (because of our native town that is now one of the worst places to live on earth in all ramifications). We should be less-bragging, less pompous, less boastful, and stop feeling we are superior to other people. To me, we are not! I feel that those who engage in the above negative engagements should stop it, those mba ovia people in our midst.
It is because of the way many of us behave that make people of other places tend to hate us.
Or, don’t you think so?