In recent times, any careful observer of events in Aro kingdom would have noticed that the kingdom has been experiencing some unhealthy challenges. If we are sincere to ourselves, we also would have noticed that these challenges are man- made. The truth of the matter about these man- made challenges are that, they are ill winds that have not blown any one, any good. The side or role anyone is playing in these challenges, has not in any way, made any person an extra ordinary nwa Aro or a super star.
There are principles or certain idiosyncrasies which are expected of every nwa Aro. It is like a seal or a trade mark of a quality brand. Every good product is recognized by its seal or peculiar trade mark. I want to believe that every nwa Aro has a remarkable trade mark; which points to these Idiosyncrasies. When I say ‘nwa Aro’, I mean all descent and non descent Aro’ ie, by marriage. Aro is for all of us, and we have expected positive roles to play for the good and progress of our dear kingdom.
Idiosyncrasies as we know are those peculiar characters and behavioral attitudes which we find in the lives of individuals and the society at large. They can come in form of ideologies, philosophies, principles, belief, conduct, of an individual, or a people.
Idiosyncrasy is also, a two facet course; positive or negative, since it has to do with characters and behavior. One could say that, the idiosyncrasy of a people is hinged on their cultural values and ethos. If this premise is right, one may then be right to say that, the Aro cultural values and ethos are norms widely acknowledged, to which every true Aro should ascribe to.
These norms are: Aro attachment to integrity, honor, self restraint, wisdom, and respect to the throne. It is to buttress the importance of these norms that gave birth to the Aro axiom, “Nwa Aro icho, mkpoola icho”. ( Nwa Aro separate, his wealth separate). Whether transliterated or translated, it means- “The integrity of an Aro man, is distinct from his wealth’. Simply put- “what makes one a true Aro man is his integrity which encompasses: honor, restrain, reverence to Aro throne, and wisdom, not affluence or wealth. Putting it in another form, ” one is not assessed or recognized as a true nwa Aro based on clique, political status, connections, academic qualifications, accolades, material/financial wealth, rhetoric prowess, physical strength, beauty, social status, you can go on and on; we know them. Rather, what makes one a true nwa Aro, going by the principles of the founding Aro patriots are: ones integrity, which stands for- an unbroken completeness in virtue. Wisdom, which is a practical insight- the skill of successful living; which interestingly, the bible says, begins with the fear of the Lord. Prov. 1:1-7.
Honour. This means – having a good name. As we know, it is said that, “a good name is better than silver and gold”. This is not peculiar to Aro, it is a universally accepted moral principle of life. However, owing to Aro historical and cultural background, they seem to pay huge emphasis on it.
Reverence for Aro throne- An Igbo axiom says, “onye fee Eze, Eze eru ya aka”. This is translated to mean, “If one respects a king, one day he will become a king”. Metaphorically it means, “He who wants to be respected, should first respect his elder”. The big book simplified it thus- “Do unto others, as you would want others to do unto you”. From what we have read from Aro history, in line with the oral traditions available to us; in the ranking of traditional rulers in Nigeria, I want to believe that, the Eze Aro of Arochukwu kingdom should be in the same ranking with the Oba of Benin, Oba of Badagry, Obi of Onitsha, Amanyanagbo of Opobo land, The Ooni of Ife (RIP), Sultan of Sokoto, the Emirs and many other first class recognized traditional rulers in Nigeria.
I have also noticed, and am sure most of us have also noticed, or observed that, no Oba, Igwe, Obi, Amanyanagbo, Emir, Sultan, or any Eze, 1st or 2nd class serves as an object of mere and frivolous discuss by his subjects. None of these also from what we read or watch on the TV about them, are neither ridiculed nor cajoled, directly or indirectly. They are revered as god-symbol. The paraphernalia of the office, the palace, their wardrobe and retinue of staff brings glory to the throne and the subjects as well.
I am just wondering aloud. I do not understand why I am sounding this way. This is a huge digression from my topic! I do not understand why my wondering thought is taking me this far? I am still wondering, why most of these traditional rulers mentioned have government presence always in their domains. Could it be because of the value their subjects place on them that is attracting the blessings and favors of God to their communities? Or the joy they derive from the honor and respect from their subjects that is doing the magic?
These case study communities remain active and relevance in all traditional matters, whether their rulers are incapacitated, or outside the community for medical or other reasons. They are supported, inline with the traditional procedures. We have seen traditional rulers, who spend more of their time living in high brow cities in Nigeria and abroad. Though I do not think it is right, yet, things work out positively for them maybe; the reverence for the throne has remained the healing therapy for their land. For the incapacitated ones, we’ve also seen where prayers were said for them, from the other arms of community leadership for God to restore their health. This is one of the principles many kingdoms and communities have adopted to sustain their thrones on very strong pedestals.
From what we read above, I have always wondered within myself why and how the status of Eze Aro has made such a dramatic descent. Because from historical records, we learnt that, His Majesty, Mazi Kanu Orji , The Eze Aro of blessed memory, though uneducated, was never relegated in the affairs of first class traditional rulers in Nigeria. I also read that when the queen of England Queen Elizabeth visited Nigeria between late 50’s and early 60’s, she paid homage to Eze Aro. This was the time Aro do not have much to boast about, in terms of human capital development.
Nevertheless, on the principles mentioned above lies the foundation of Aro kingdom; that is why Aro are recognized in the black world even beyond, as wise people. That is also why Aro regards people who do not place premium on these attributes as ” Nde mba ovia”, ( uncivilized or bush people), because they understood that a nation or people who do not place value on integrity, wisdom, honour, reverence for the throne; will surely be behaving like animals.
Aro indeed are peculiar people, with myths and rituals, whose symbols still adorn sacred places today. These myths and symbols give evidence to our enviable cultural heritage and as well, the supremacy and spirituality of kingship. This is the reason Aro do not take it lightly with any person or group who insults Eze Aro.
In the December 2007, edition of Aro Ambassador Magazine, The then President General of Nzuko Aro Worldwide, Mazi E K O Ivi stated unequivocally- “That Eze Aro remains the pride of all within Aro and among Aro in Diaspora. That under no circumstance should he be insulted or cajoled by any person, no matter how highly placed. Henceforth, anybody who insults or cajoles Eze Aro shall incure the wrought of Aro people, living and dead”.
This warning can only come from a people who have a quality and enviable image they would want to protect. A people who value their heritage, A people who understands that the honour of a people lies in the leadership. If the’ head’ of a people is cajoled or disrespected, it has a way of robbing off on the community. This tells why communities hold their Ezes in high esteem. The bible says, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter”.
Taking a look at the contemporary Aro, can we boldly affirm that these enviable and wonderful attributes; which Aro patriots laid as foundation are still relevant or respected in our day? Do we still have the moral justifications to call other people- ” Nde mba ovia?” I only ask a question; however, every observant and sincere nwa Aro, with ears and eyes on ground, should be able to know that, “development” has put a knife in what made us umu Aro, and Aro image and cultural values are being threatened by day; because the foundation has been tampered with.”
Following the principles mentioned above; and what we saw from other kingdoms and communities; and if we truly understand the concept of ‘ Nwa Aro Icho’’, as written by Mazi EKO Ivi, on the September. 2013 edition of Aro News; or better still visit www.aronewsonline.com; there should be a new approach to our relationship with the Aro throne. Do not ask me, if we have not been relating well before. I said a new approach.
There is also a need for us to apply restrain to certain actions we take that has been gradually severing the bound that held us together as a people and family. In fact, Aro is a family, and any family where the head is neither respected nor honoured, that family has automatically lost its glory.
Now is the time to restore the image of Aro throne. A first time visitor in Aro who sees the palace, will practically tell us to shut up, whenever we want to raise our ego as the ‘Superior Igbo’ Aro Okigbo. We are doing nothing to project the image of Eze Aro, rather, we find joy and comfort’ na ikpa isi okwu n’enweghi isi na odu’.
Aro must be repositioned to attract government presence. Any person seeking for any leadership position from any club, group or nzuko, whether in branch or national levels; should first, sincerely, xray and appraise him/her and score him/herself based on the principles above, before declaring intentions. For supporters, it is time for us to understand that sycophancy and compromise cannot, and has never benefited any people or community. Rather, they are enemies of progress.
The black world looks up to us. Let us not drag the efforts and names of the Aro patriots through the mire by our actions!
Okeigbo Mma mma ni!