The Aro Contributions to the Development of South Eastern Nigeria: Special focus on Aro contributions to the Economic and Socio-Cultural Development of Ebonyi State, legacies, Pains and prospects.

Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi

A paper delivered at the 5th All Aro National Conference (AANC) At Abakaliki on 14th March 2020.

It is an honor to be asked to deliver this paper at this Conference holding here at Abakaliki, the capital city of Ebonyi state, which is indeed another home to my own people of Arochukwu kingdom. It is interesting to note that the first All Aro National Conference was held in 1996 at Arochukwu, the same year Ebonyi state was created. Ndi Aro and Ebonyi people have been linked with each other several centuries long before the white men came to this part of Africa. Aro and Ebonyi are both Igbo speaking people of South Eastern Nigeria. All Igbo share common belief in Chukwu Abiama (God almighty), the name which Ndi Aro adopt as their kingdom surname. Hence they are called Umu Chukwu Abiama of Aro Chukwu.

Let’s get to know Ebonyi state better. The present Ebonyi state was created in 1996 as earlier stated. That was several centuries after its peoples had been in good relationships with the Aro. The state is popularly known as the “Salt of the Nation” because of its huge and rich salt deposits in Okposi and Uburu. The people are mainly farmers and traders. They produce good quality rice, yam, plantain, cassava, beans, fruits, groundnuts, among many other farm products’. Igbo native cows, goats and sheep are also reared in commercial numbers in many Ebonyi communities. The state shares border with Benue state to the North, Enugu state to the west, Imo and Abia states to the south, and Cross River state to the east. ‘It has 13 major towns, namely: Abakaliki (the state capital), Afikpo, Ikwo, Izzi, Onicha, Edda, Onueke, Ezzamgbo, Nkalagu, Uburu, Ishiagu, Amasiri and Okposi.’ The state is divided into thirteen political Local Government Areas, namely: Abakaliki, Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ebonyi, Ezza North, Ezza South, Ikwo, Ishielu, Ivo, Izzi, Ohaozara, Ohaukwu, and Onicha. It is good to know that many Aro people founded their diaspora homes in many of these Ebonyi towns, communities, and Local Government Areas. And they have been doing well, helping in developing those places. It is most likely true that Ndi Aro constitute the single largest population of non-indigenous influential people of Ebonyi state that were born, bred and resident in the state.

Ndi Aro, as shrewd business people, actively got themselves engaged in commercial production and trading of those farm products the Ebonyi people are well known for. In the early colonial days and even much later, some rich Aro people were providing some needed financial capital or pre farming seed money to some Ebonyi farmers on certain agreed terms, in order to enable the local farmers carry out their farm works in larger scale that would yield handsome profits for both the Ebonyi farmers and the Aro fund providers. Some Aro traders were also helping the farmers in finding lucrative markets outside the farmers’ communities for greater profits for the both parties. Those Ebonyi farmers who had collaborated with the Aro early enough in the farming and farm products trading activities became richer and more successful in their ventures than they would have ordinarily been. 

Ndi Aro made some impacts as legacies on the lives of the people of South Eastern Nigeria. Many people of South Eastern Nigeria believed that there was something divinely special with Aro people and their ancestral homeland at Arochukwu, located in the present Abia State which is a Neighbour to Ebonyi state. Ndi Aro were and are still known for their long distance traveling and trading activities. They were highly respected for their intelligence, wisdom and diplomacy in judgments. They have values they treasure a lot. Their principal philosophy anchors on two pillars: “Ako bu ije” (Ako na Uche), which translates to mean “wisdom guides the way of life of every Aro ”. The other mantra is “Nwa Aro icho nkpola icho”, which emphasizes that “Ndi Aro place more value on character than mere riches or wealth”. Any wise Aro believes in “honor above riches”; but also believes in making good wealth through hard and honest work. And so wherever the Aro go, they go with the mentality of working hard to make it good and big in life. And this has become part of their life and a legacy the Aro have left in the minds of the people wherever they go. Ndi Aro travel a lot and domicile in many places outside their homeland, including various communities in Ebonyi state. They have been in those places outside their ancestral home for centuries in search of opportunities to improve their lives as they engage in good lucrative enterprises wherever they go. No matter where the Aro are, they are found to be influential because of certain special attributes they possess. They create impacts on the lives of the people of the communities where they reside. Ndi Aro were among the first to embrace western education in South Eastern Nigeria. So they got themselves trained and engaged successfully in different businesses. They were also employed to work at various levels in government offices and other institutions in the South Eastern Nigeria including Ebonyi state. They are hard working and have been contributing significantly to the development of any place they occupy.

They the Aro played noticeable roles in the civilization of the South Eastern Nigeria. As long distance travelers and business people, Ndi Aro were quick in developing strong connections and friendly relationships with the people of the communities where they occupied. They did the same with the Europeans that met them in those places where they were in the South Eastern Nigeria. Ndi Aro were respected by the locals and the early Europeans as at that time for their intelligence, sagacity and shrewdness in business and also dexterity in building relationships with the people they had contact with. In truth, what the Aro are to the entire Igbo nation are exactly what the Igbo race are to other Nigerians and other people of the world. They are very intelligent, diplomatic, enterprising, friendly, fashionable, willing to learn new things and understand more things. They possess strong determination to succeed no matter the odds. They and other Igbo have the ability to adapt easily and live anywhere in the world. They succeed where others could not. They build good houses and homes in all the places they go to and settle there happily and very comfortably. They are not limited by tribe and distances away from home. They are driven by global civility and citizenship mentality. They possess the minds and attributes that encourage civilization. These are major attributes of civilization the Aro possess. Ndi Aro have positive and broad attitudes towards life and they easily contribute to the civilization and developments of any place they live. They also help to mentor their hosts to learn and possess such attributes too. Ndi Aro have always prided themselves as: “amuta ezi mba”, they learn new things easily and teach others to learn same too. They are known as Obia’ra mba mezie mba, (not really ‘Obia-ra mba Kara mba’). This is because everywhere the Aro go, they will help to develop the place and make it to be much better than when they (the Aro) first arrived the place. The Aro were thus regarded as being more civilized than many of the others around them. They are almost everywhere and are seen by others as great leaders in many aspects of life and were been relied upon as a guide to civilization of the people around them. Anyone of great influence was seen as an associate of the Aro. Ndi Aro were seen as “Beke mbu”, great leaders and most civilized among the others wherever they go to, especially within the South Eastern Nigeria. They really helped in the civilization of the people of this area including Ebonyi state.

The Aro played some roles in developing businesses and entrepreneurial skills in Ebonyi state. In Abakaliki, especially before the Nigerian civil war, some multinational commercial franchise outfits were mostly managed by some Aro business men who were appointed sole distributors of some of their products within Abakaliki axis. Those Aro business men engaged some Ebonyi indigenes in running the business. The Aro train them, mentor them and equip them with skills on how to run such business successfully. This helped the Ebonyi mentees in setting up their own businesses and running them even more successfully. Some of my family business men: Mazi Okoro (Nwite) Nkwagu Anicho Ivi and Mazi Okoronkwo Ivi, both of blessed memories, were major franchise distributors for John Holt, UAC, GBO and PZ companies as at then. Mazi Okoro Nwaokoro from Ugbo village, used to own one of the biggest Poultry farms in Ezilo. Mazi Agwu Nwankwo from Asaga owned one of the big Hotels (now defunct Vanco: Vin Nwankwo & co) in Abakaliki as at then too. Some Aro owned Rice mills in Abakaliki. The Aro engaged the services of some Ebonyi indigenes and others in running the businesses. In the process, the Aro business people helped in the development of Ebonyi and her people in the area of trade and commerce.

Some major streets in Abakaliki are today named after Arochukwu, Arondizuogu and some prominent Aro people who had made some impacts on the development of Abakaliki town. One of such prominent Aro was late Mazi Udensi from Atani village who was honored by the state by naming the most popular “round about” in Abakaliki after his name: “Udensi Round About” and also “Udensi street”, both in the Kpirikpiri area of Abakaliki city. We give great thanks to the present Ebony state Governor, His Excellency, Engr Dave Umahi, who has been working very hard developing and beautifying Abakaliki city. Looking at the massive road projects and developments going on in Abakaliki and almost the entire Ebonyi state today, I begin to marvel and wonder the kind of “evil hammer” that might have hit my own Abia state on the head. May be one day, Abia will see the light that is shining in Ebonyi state and wake up from her long slumber. By the way, the name “Umahi” and some other big names like Nwankwo, Ukpabi, Okoro, Nwafor, which some prominent Ebonyi people bear, tend to suggest some Aro connection. There may likely be some link somewhere because Aro and Ebonyi state have been connected with each other for long historically and ancestrally.

In those days, many people from many communities in South Eastern Nigeria, especially the Ebonyi indigenes, loved to visit Arochukwu regularly, on certain special pilgrimages. They were anxious to visit Arochukwu to consult a particular Aro famous oracle, which was wrongly labeled “the long juju” by the British colonialists. The name “long juju” was an imagination of the White men who could not pinpoint “the source of Aro oracle’s power”. They, the white men, got amazed and totally confused with the kind of powers andinfluence the oracle had gained in the South Eastern Nigeria. In truth, there was nothing “long or short” in any Arochukwu oracle. The Aro oracle was useful in revealing certain hidden things to its clients. It was also good in providing solutions to many spiritual and business challenges the oracle’s clients may have had. The patronizers were always eager to utilize the services of the shrine. Some of the clients came from far and wide to seek justice and arbitration to some difficult cases they could not easily resolve satisfactorily in their local communities. Some came to seek help for fertility and productivity. While some came to gain self protection, others came for business success and prosperity, and others for revelation of mysteries. The Aro Aro oracle was established centuries before the white men came around here. The Shrine was not founded to facilitate slavery activities as some people had wrongly claimed. The oracle had existed several centuries long before the Atlantic slave trading activities became popular. Nevertheless the oracle was put into use for some roles during the Atlantic slave trading era. Ndi Aro wisely engaged some local agents from their many trade routes and locations to ‘evangelize the powers’ of their oracle throughout the length and breadth of South Eastern Nigeria. Some Ebonyi people in particular became Aro agents in their own areas for the Aro oracle pilgrimage activities. And those agents, because of their engagements with Aro, became rich and very influential among their own people. Some of the offsprings of the Aro agents and their subsequent generations also became powerful and successful in various other endeavors they later engaged themselves to do, even till today. Some of them now play active roles in politics and possess great influence in their respective states as they help in development of their communities and states. These are part of the contributions the Aro oracle made to its agents especially those from Ebonyi stare and their subsequent generations.

Many indigenous people of Ebonyi state were beneficiaries of the services the Aro famous oracle was providing in the past and is still rendering till date.The Aro famous oracle was wrongly labeled “Ibn Ukpabi” by some historians. There is nothing “Ibn” in the Ukpabi of the Aro oracle. In fact, the real people who own and manage the operations of the Aro oracle come mainly from my own side of Aro Kingdom, the Bianko Group. The people call their oracle “Ivu Chukwu” (the face of God), or “Ovia Ikoro” (the forest of great mysteries) or “Oke Inhe Ukwu di na Ovia” (the big mysterious thing in the big forest). And it is only the Aro, not the Aro clients or outsiders, that know the meaning of “the big thing that is in that bid forest”. And that is why we, the Aro, have the saying: “Nwa Aro anagi asi Nwa Aro ibe ya na ‘Ivi n’ Ukpabi’ si ya ekele-ya”. Meaning: No Aro person can bring any message from the Aro oracle to another Aro. Because what the Aro oracle messenger knows, the other Aro also know. But in the larger sense of Aro essence, no one can know it all, no matter one’s ranking in the society. You may know this but you may not know that. And that is why we often question: “Imara aga, imara agori’? Meaning: If you know this, do you know that? Aro is a very deep concept and an interesting complex piece to behold. Originally the Aro oracle was housed at “Bianko land in a cave of waterfalls” at the Baraki Area of the present Arochukwu. Bianko land was the aboriginal domain of the Bianko Group before the historic Aro Ibibio war came and birthed the present Aro kingdom of several centuries ago. That war brought in the Akpa group who joined to bring in greater diversity and strength to the present Arochukwu kingdom. The Aro oracle or shrine which was claimed to have been destroyed by the British during the Aro / British war of 1901 was even in existence before the historic Igbo – Ibibio war. And it is still very much intact and active till date. It is intelligently dotted in different special areas in some Bianko villages of Asaga, Amuvi and Amangwu with headquarters at Asaga. The oracle is very much of an “intelligence network” couched upon the natural wisdom of the Aro to deliver best judgment on various issues brought to it. And so even till now many people from different communities in the south eastern Nigeria including those of Ebonyi state still visit Arochukwu mainly to the Bianko villages to seek help from the Aro oracle (Ivu Chukwu). Many still come to appeal to “Ivu Chukwu” to render to them arbitration and justice, spiritual succor, and solutions to some business challenges the clients may have. It is all a matter of faith. And it has been working out fine for those who believe in it. Their needs appear to satisfactorily being met by the Aro oracle (Ivu Chukwu). The Aro still coordinate the pilgrimage activities through their trusted agents in Ebonyi state and in some other states of interest in the South Eastern Nigeria. It’s part of the Aro essence and is in the blood stream of every Aro that knows it.

Since the Aro pilgrimage mission involved long distance travels to and from Arochukwu, ndi Aro had to establish many outposts along their various trade network routes as resting points and for further social and business contacts. Some of those outposts later grew to become Aro settlements. And some of them have become popular Aro Diaspora Communities where some Aro now permanently reside and possess as their own communities. All of these outposts and communities including other places where Aro occupy are known as Aro Diaspora Communities. This is very much in order because most communities in the world developed through such historic migrations. The Aro having been in those places for many centuries are considered part and parcel of those places. They have been there living friendly, working hard, contributing to socio-cultural and economic developments of such places.

 The Aro chose their various trade routes carefully. Each of the Aro 19 traditional villages chose their trade routes and potential outside communities wisely based on affinity and some historic link.These Aro 19 traditional villages are: Agbagwu, Amanagwu, Amangwu, Amankwu, Amasu, Amoba, Amukwa, Amuvi, Asaga, Atani, Ibom, Isimkpu, Obinkita, Oror, Ugbo, Ugwuakuma, Ugwuavo, Ujari and Utughaugwu. In Ebonyi state, for example, we have a lot of Ndi Aro mainly from Asaga, Amuvi, Amangwu, Amoba, Ugbo, Atani, Ugwuavo and Agbagwu villages residing in various rural and urban communities of the state. This set of Aro have some strong historic connections with Ebonyi people of Edda, Afikpko, Nzerem, Nkalagu, Izzi, Ikwo, Ezza, Uburu, Okposi, Ohaozara, among many others. Besides Ebonyi state, Atani villagers are found in Rivers state, especially in Ikwerre area, and also in Umuahia area of Abia state. Amankwu people are mainly in Arondizuogu in Imo state. The people of Ujari and Ibom are found in the area towards Anambra axis – Ndi Eni Assa: Ajalli (Ujari), Ndiowu, Ndikerionwu, etc. Ibom are also found in Akanu Ohafia (Ndi Ijere) in Abia state. The people of Amuvi village are mainly in Udi, Agbaja, etc, in Enugu state and also in Isuochi area of Abia state, respectively. Obinkita people are found in Akwa Ibom and Cross River areas. Asaga village people, besides being in Ebonyi state, are also found in Mgbidi, Orlu and Oguta areas, even in far away Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Some people from Amanagwu were found in Calabar and few in Isukwuato axis. Utughaugwu and Oror are found in Aro Ikpa community of Abia state. Isimkpu people are majorly in Bende, Okporoebyi and Umuahia Area also in Abia state. Some Amukwa people are few and are found in Calabar axis. Ugwuakuma people are found in Ewe community near Arochukwu. Besides all these, some Aro are also found among some indigenous people of Western Nigeria, and some in Onitsha area of Eze Chima clan. Some Aro are in the middle belt of Nigeria and even worldwide too. From the above, we can see why some Aro from certain Aro villages migrated from their local villages to dwell together in certain other places as their own Aro diaspora communities outside their ancestral villages in Arochukwu. These Aro went to those non Aro aboriginal communities some centuries ago for reasons already given here. Some of the Aro in some of those new places have now integrated permanently with the host communities. Aro people have been there working hard, doing good businesses, building houses and good homes, paying dues and taxes to the governments of the communities. By so doing the Aro are surely contributing to the development of such host communities and their states. 

Ndi Aro and ndi Ebonyi have long been collaborating in developing strong socio cultural relationships. Successful inter marriages amongst the Aro and some Ebonyi people have existed for centuries and have resulted in interbreeding of many successful people in various fields of endeavors today. Ndi Aro and Ebonyi people are also involved in some other socio-cultural and economic activities that have solidified their relationships for the benefits of both parties. There are some Aro traders who deal on “Ukara Ekpe dressing attires” made in Ebonyi state. The Aro traders engage some Ebonyi skilled “tie and dye textile artists” in certain Ebonyi communities to produce the ‘Ukara Ekpe’ for them. This was done mainly for the “initiated Ekpe Aro class” without the Ebonyi local textile artists knowing deep mysteries surrounding the business. In the process, the Aro traders and the makers of the “Ukara Ekpe” from Ebonyi state made some good money from the deals. This business used to be huge and is still on going. Some “Ekpe initiated class” from Aro provide some “Nsibiri” writings or designs the Ebonyi local textiles artists use on the “Ukara” attire, also without the artists knowing the meaning of the nsibiri they help imprint on the “Ukara Ekpe” cloth. That’s “Ako na Uche Aro” at work, a sort of smart business intelligence. In addition, there are also some special cultural “Nmuo” masquerades which are periodically showcased in Arochukwu (during cultural festivals) that really originated from Ebonyi states long time ago. These have been repackaged to suit the need of the Aro. The following Aro villages: Ugbo, Ugwuavor, Amoba, Asaga and Amuvi derived their Nmuo, the dreaded “spiritual masquerades”, like “Odo, Atuejeogo, Ojukwu, Ugwudike, and Ajimaebgu” paraphernalia from Ebonyi and Enugu states. Besides all the above, it is also interesting to note here that Ndi Ebonyi acquired part of their Igbo dressing habits and styles from the Aro, later modified to suit their local tastes. There are still more socio-cultural relationships / interchanges between the Aro and Ebonyi, time and space will not permit here.

In Education Sector in Ebonyi state: Many primary schools and post primary institutions in the state (such as Presby College, Izzi High School, etc) attracted Aro students and teachers a lot in the past, some of who could be among us at this conference. Presently, Ndi Aro are also still students, teachers and workers in some schools, universities and higher institutions in Ebonyi state. It is therefore not in doubt that Ndi Aro in Ebonyi state were and are still contributing in building some institutions that help in developing physical, economic and socio-cultural wellbeing of Ebonyi state even before the unfortunate Nigerian civil war came. 

The Civil War threw up some challenges along the line. The Nigerian civil war(1967 – 1970) disorganized the life of the good people of South Eastern Nigeria, including their well-being and the historic relationships the Aro had developed with many indigenous people of Ebonyi state. For example, some Aro properties, left behind by the fleeing Aro citizens during that Nigeria / Biafra civil war, were lost to some locals of Ebonyi state after the war for various reasons. My own family people had some bad experiences of such misfortune in “Ngeregede”, a small Izzi community as at then. Some Ndi Ivi people of Asaga Arochukwu had an Aro Quarters there consisting of an expanse of land with fully developed houses which they had possessed and occupied for several decades before the civil war came. But these my people lost all their landed properties there to that Izzi community as a result of the war and also because some legal papers of some of the properties were not properly tidied up at the time our people acquired them from the Izzi indigenes. The traditional trust upon which most of the properties were acquired and which the Aro had relied upon became “totally unreliable” as every of such trust got broken down. The youths of the host communities refused to comply with any agreement (which included some written ones but lost in transit during the war) and any traditional understanding their elders and ancestors had with the Aro in the past. As a result, some hostile behaviors were exhibited against the Aro there, soon after the civil war. Identity crises with conspiracy of silence manifested as some people with Aro blood in them kept silent in fears. Omu Aro identity sign boards mounted in some strategic areas where the Aro people used to occupy were dismantled and destroyed by the Izzi youths. These nasty experiences might have happened to some other Aro people living in other communities of Ebonyi as at then. These unfortunate events were part of the setbacks, challenges and problems the Aro have had in Ebonyi state mainly as consequences of the Nigerian civil war and the distrust that followed it soon after. Such bad experiences might have also occurred in some other areas outside Ebonyi state, especially in Rivers state where some Aro of Atani village extractions largely domiciled. Such hostilities, though sad and painful, have now become things of the past for us in this area, and have proven incapable of destroying entirely the historic and ancestral relationships the Aro had built with some Ebonyi state people several centuries ago. Many of our people have put all those issues behind them and have moved on with new life. Fortunately, some of the Aro people who were latent in the past are now gradually and boldly tracing their roots back to Aro. They are now courageously affirming that they are proud to have two citizenships, one of Aro root identity and another of Ebonyi state. Nigerian law recognizes multiple citizenships. And so life is getting better. On the sunny side of life, no Aro that I know lost their spouses to their in-laws in any of the Aro host communities here in Ebonyi as a result of the civil war. Rather, the inter-marriages the Aro had entered with some Ebonyi state people have helped in bringing back improved relationships the Aro have long had with their Ebonyi host communities. 

Interestingly, some Ebonyi state communities, in their own history, have strongly claimed Aro origin. Edda, Afikpo, and few others in particular have traced their ancestral origin to Arochukwu. In a story on the true “Origin of Afikpo” (Ehugbo), posted on the net on 20th June, 2013: (Afikpo in Retrospect), By Gabriel Mbey, April 3, 2009, claimed that… “The most reliable account of the origin of Afikpo asserts that the founder of Afikpo was a great warrior called Igbo Ukwu”, (who was connected with the Aro). Igbo Ukwu and his followers were said to have set out from Middle East several centuries ago in search of conquest and settlement. They were said to have traveled through North Africa from where they moved on to the present Nigeria and proceeded to Calabar, where Igbo Ukwu attacked and defeated both the locals and the Akpa people”. A few remnants of the Akpa including their powerful warrior, Egwu Urochi, became Igbo Ukwu’s captives. And all the captives were taken to Arochukwu by Igbo Ukwu. Unlike Akpa people, the Aro (were said to be) cool headed, humble, hospitable and peaceful. “However, the Aro are highly reserved and shrewd, to the extent that it is always difficult to extract information of vital importance from them except such which they consider will be beneficial to them. “In fact, they are known to be the most cunning (diplomatic) people of the Igbo race”. The story went on to assert that ndi Aro wisely accepted Igbo Ukwu as one of them and got him settled at Arochukwu as an Aro. According to the author, “Igbo Ukwu made Arochukwu his home place and from there (probably with the help of other Aro), he made further expeditions to other places, including Afikpo. Two of his sons, Eseni and Okoro (Igbo Ukwu), founded Ufu Eseni at Edda and Unwana (at Afikpo) communities respectively”. 

Similarly the Edda people also claimed that they too migrated from Arochukwu where they had lived with the Aro in a hilly cave (Ogba) probably around the location of the present Utughaugwu village in Arochukwu. According to an extract from “Edda Migration”, posted on June 20, 2013; Excerpts from “Edda Heritage” by Egbebu Liberal Movement states that: “Edda oral tradition reveals that their people first settled in the present Arochukwu location from where they later moved northwards, leaving Oti Eze, their relation and his family behind. “Then Oti Eze founded some villages in Arochukwu as confirmed by Dike and Ekejiuba (1990). According to Ada people, “the military relationship between the Ada (Edda) and the Aro was based on blood ties and not on mercenary terms”. This revelation is very important and it is clearly contrary to some dubious claim by some historians who erroneously in the past claimed that some Aro came from Edda. 

But the truth as revealed is that the Edda came from Arochukwu. To support this view, His Majesty, the late Eze Aro, Mazi Kanu Oji, OFR, also affirmed, in a documented interview in 1986 that: “The two clans, Arochukwu and Edda, were said to be of the same ancestral father, Oke Eze Mgbom who begat Oti Eze, the father of the Aros and Imo Eze the father of the Edda”. That Edda (Ada) left Arochukwu in search of a larger area to settle. And after they left Arochukwu, they first settled at Ugwu-Nzu (now Nguzu Edda) which till date remains the traditional head of Nde Edda. From there they expanded to other parts of Edda. Nde Edda, in recognition of their ancestral root and relationships with the people of Aro Okeigbo (Arochukwu) always address their people in any gathering with a special greeting: “Umu Oke Igbo, unu ka nu”. The Edda thus always assert that they originated from Arochukwu and remain part of “Umu Okeigbo root”. It is also important to briefly mention here that some other people of South Eastern Nigeria including Nkwere and Orlu in Imo state, some Rivers, some Cross River and Akwa Ibom people also claim historic and ancestral connections with the Aro. These therefore form part of major contributions the Aro have made towards development of the people of the South Eastern Nigeria and the areas they currently occupy as their own today. Now therefore, since Afikpo and Edda people of Ebonyi state strongly and rightly claim their historic origin from Arochukwu and other relevant issues being discussed here, it is evident that the contributions of the Aro to the economic and socio-cultural development of Ebonyi state are very significant and worthy of recognition at this 5th All Aro National Conference discourse.   

In summary, Ndi Aro and Ndi Ebonyi have a lot of good things they share in common as a people of one Igbo tribe and one historic origin for many centuries before now. Both Aro and Ebonyi possess progressive spirit towards developments. The good roles the Aro have played in governance, economic and socio cultural services wherever they are have been well noted and have contributed to the developments in those states. Thus Ndi Aro, through their wide networks and active engagements in politics, economic and socio-cultural activities have surely impacted positively on the development of some Aro and non Aro communities in the South Eastern Nigeria. Ebonyi people remain one of the major beneficiaries of the contributions of the Aro and services rendered by the famous Aro oracle. Aro are everywhere, worldwide doing well. Wherever the Aro are, they obey and keep the laws of the land, pay their dues and taxes to the governments, and build strong relationships with the people. They help to develop the communities they occupy through many contributions they make in the diverse services they render, including businesses they run, many jobs they help to create, good homes and houses they build, thriving inter marriages they enter with the people of the areas. Aro are also benefiting from the people of the communities where they dwell, otherwise they would have left there. Aro relationships with their host communities in Ebonyi state in particular are really mutually beneficial to both parties. Though some painful mistakes were made here and there in the past, but both have over grown them and have put such failures behind them. They have learned to move on forward, learn from each other and understand themselves much better. The Aro and Ebonyi coexist in relative harmony and are gaining a lot more from one another. Ndi Aro and ndi Ebonyi, in prospect, still have greater opportunities to do much more things together for the benefits of all, if they could throw away the bitterness of the past, overcome the crises of mistrust and the identity conflicts that usually arise. They should learn to trust each other more and get to work closer together through active collaborations in businesses, politics, governance, social engagements and stronger interactions for the benefits of all. We believe that the relationships between the Aro and Ebonyi and with the other people of the South Eastern Nigeria could still be made stronger and better to the joy of all and to the glory of God. Thank you all for your attention.  


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