Aro Marriage And The Missing Links

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.

…On a Sad Note

I convey my condolences to the wife and family of my good friend and elder brother, Mazi Emma Nwokoro (Hapel) who died in London recently. A man of few words, an industrialist of repute and successful businessman, Mazi Hapel loved Aro News and particulary Amaikpe column.  ” When I buy Aro news, I put it right inside my portfolio until when I am free and very relaxed, then I bring it out to read. I read Amaikpe first”. These are exactly Mazi Hapel’s words while commending the Aro News editorial team in one of my conversations with him. On his death, Aro has lost a prominent son and philanthropist. While we await arrangements for his burial, I stand with the family in grief.

…Uche Orji loses Dad!

I also convey my sympathy to my brother and good friend, Uche Orji, MD, Nigerian Sovereign Investment (Sovereign Wealth Fund), who also lost his dear father Mazi Nta Osondu Orji of Amanagwu village.   As the count-down to the burial on the 3rd of November  2018 commences, this is wishing my brother Uche  and the entire family,  God’s mercy and grace.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace.

About author

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, a well-known Nigerian broadcaster, journalist, political economist and development communication specialist sits on the Editorial Board of Aro News, a leading community news channel of the Aros, south east Nigeria. Orji writes its popular column “Amaikpe”.  
He is currently the Director of Communications and Advocacy at the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Presidency, Abuja. NEITI is the Nigerian chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international organization with 53 member countries which leads the global campaign for transparency and accountability in the management of extractive resources in resource-rich countries around the world. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji was named NEITI's acting Executive Secretary/ceo in 2015, a position he held briefly until 2016.  
Dr. Orji represents NEITI on Nigeria’s National Steering Committee of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and chairs the extractive sector thematic group in the country’s OGP.  
Prior to his current job at NEITI, Dr. Orji was a special adviser to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication on Strategic Development Communication. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a national consultant on public procurement reforms. At the UNDP, he worked with other development partners such as the World Bank and USAID on institutionalizing public procurement processes in Nigeria, by articulating a bill on public procurement for consideration and passage into law by the National Assembly. Following the passage of the Bill into law and establishment of the Bureau of Public Procurement on the June 4, 2007, Orji headed the media and public affairs department of the Bureau.
He served as Special Adviser to the President of the Senate at the National Assembly from 2000 to 2003. During this period, he provided technical support to develop the institutional framework on strategic media/civil society relations and engagements with the country’s legislature emerging from years of military rule.
His career in the media industry began at Radio Nigeria where he was groomed and worked in various capacities, rising through the ranks to the position of Deputy Director at the headquarters. The highest point of his career at Radio Nigeria was his posting to the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power) as the Chief State-House Correspondent, attached to Nigeria’s presidents. Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji served with courage and distinction during five different regimes, part of which were under the military from 1993 to 2000, when Nigeria returned to civil rule. The job at the Presidential villa took Orji on regular entourages of Nigerian Presidents to many countries of the world for the media-coverage of key global events, including several sessions of the United Nations' General Assembly in New York.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji began his early life and education in 1970 at the Presbyterian School, Amanator Isu, Ohaozara in the then Afikpo Division. He attended Ishiagu High School Okigwe for his secondary education from 1975 and obtained his West African School Certificate from the school in 1980. He later proceeded to the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu where he graduated with a certificate in Mass communication in 1987. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Abuja, Nigeria in 1999, a master’s degree in political economy and development studies in 2004 and a PhD in the same discipline and from the same University in 2012.
He attended the Senior Executive Fellows program on public policy and communication at J.F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also an alumnus of Blatvanik School of Government, University of Oxford, England, Thompson Foundation Institute of Advanced Media Studies Cardiff, United Kingdom, the International Law Institute, George Town University Washington DC, the Institute for Public and Private Partnership, Arlington Virginia, the World Bank Institute, the African Development Bank Institute, and the Lagos Business School. Furthermore, he is a recipient of professional fellowships from the US State Department and from the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji is married to Dr. (Mrs.) Esther Ogbonnaya with three children: Nnenna, Orji (Jr), and Chinatu.

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