Aro Marriage And The Missing Links

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Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD

A prominent Aro man met me recently at the Lagos airport. I was heading to Abuja while his flight was to Enugu. After exchange of pleasantries, he began an interrogation of various issues  raised in previous articles published on this column. He particularly identified the one on “the decline of Aro Marriage as a strong message that hit the tigers tail. In his view, the increasing failure of Aro children to find suitors (wives and husbands) in Aro remains worrisome with huge negative consequences to marriage stability. Besides it is responsible to gradual eclipse of Aro culture and generational transition.

Mazi picked holes on the arguments advanced in that publication on the merits and demerits of Aro marriage. In his view, I killed the snake but was unable or afraid to park the snake into the bag. “Orji”, he asked, “how can you cure a sickness that you have no idea of either the causes or the symptoms?” He continued.“Where are our children? How many times do you bring them home? ‘’Do they go home for “Ikeji,  what of Easter? When they visit may be during Christmas, how long do they stay? Do they interact and mix up with other children? How many parents make it a point of duty to bring these children to Aro during holidays.

In the light of these and more questions, failure to provide local contents as part of education and total upbringing of Aro children born outside Aro constitute the major missing link to the decline of Aro marriage. “We neither teach them Aro dialect nor bring them close to Aro gatherings, meetings or ceremonies where they can gain the required home grown exposure on how things are done. Have you seen the children of the Aro elites attend Nzuko Aro meetings. Orji, we are all guilty”“I have five children, he lamented. They were all born in Zaria but largely raised in Lagos. None of them can speak Igbo not to talk of Aro. The four girls among them are all married outside Aro, outside Igbo land.  My only son who is currently living in the USA is about to marry an Ethiopian also based in America.  Orji, at 71 years of age, that is my story. And it is not funny”.  He concluded.

Before I could cut in to make inputs into the discussion, boarding for Mazi’s flight was announced. We starred at each other, shook hands and wished one another safe flight. The airport encounter with Mazi, my fellow Aro man left is the story of many so called today digital age parents. The Aro rich and powerful elites are worse off. For instance, how can we include Aro- made -local -content to our children’s up bringing to bridge the gaps over the missing links. These include bringing the children more frequently to Aro to help them identify age mates, peer groups to fight loneliness when they visit home? How can we create deliberate efforts to expose the children to the essence of cultural integration? What about the common attitude of Aro elite families towards spending holidays in village?

The benefits of Aro marriage are found in its strong belief on excellent family foundation, sound parenting, strong community values, moral and ethical conduct. In Aro Kingdom, family history is not only important but an open secret in the public domain  that  form speak for itself. Aro marriage is built easily on this easy and free access to information. This is why a girl child born, bred and married in Aro is widely respected. Her spouse equally boasts openly before all and sundry about his choice. The confidence arises from the acclaimed open community endorsement of family character and conduct. In conflict prevention, management and resolution, Aro marriage is a better option because as the saying goes “all the water are boiling inside the same pot…. “mmirimmri no niteasu! Besides, parents reap bountifully from Aro marriage especially in their old age. This is because care and affection are always handy in the same language and environment that the  parents are familiar with. Above all, research has confirmed that Arochukwu  bride price is the lowest anywhere in the world. Even in India where women pay the bride price to marry men, Aro conditions for marriage are far more attractive.

In Arochukwu, a bride price is only N25 (twenty-five naira) and you are live, home and dry with a brand new wife. This is without prejudice to her education, profession or family affluence.

A random survey, conducted by Amaikpe revealed that 83% of Aro marriages survive their full life span. On the other hand,  less than 9% end in full blown divorce while only 8% suffer from either separation, co-habitation or both. Therefore, Ikeji 2018, is another chance to come home, meet and pick a wife. Had I known is history. Today is the future. And the future is already here and firmly in your hands. Welcome to Arochukwu and Ikeji 2018.

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is a renowned journalist and well known broadcaster of repute in Nigeria. He is currently the Director, Communications at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Presidency Abuja. He has held high ranking media and public communication appointments in Nigeria’s federal government. In 2009, he was appointed Special Adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications, having earlier served as Special Adviser (media & public relations) to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. He was also Head of Media and public Affairs at the Bureau of Public Procurement at the Presidency, worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Abuja as communications consultant among others. A graduate of mass communication at the Institute of Management and Technology IMT Enugu, he attended the Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff U.K. Orji holds a Bsc in political Science, Masters and Ph.D respectively in political economy and development studies from the University of Abuja. He is also a Senior Executive Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School. For his contributions to the development of Aro, he is honored as Ikemba and remains in the National Executive Committee of Nzuko Aro as Chairman Political/ Government Relations. From Ugwuavor Village, Arochukwu, Orji is married with three children.

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