Eze Aro palace is one of the most important institutions in Arochukwu kingdom. In terms of culture and tradition, the palace is indeed old and remains an embodiment of all that Aro people hold dear. The palace is a mecca of sorts-the focal point of all the confederating units that make up the kingdom. The palace is the first point of call for any august visitor to Arochukwu. Its significance in the socio-cultural and political life of the town cannot be over-emphasized.
Thus, the palace is the reflection of Arochukwu as a socio-cultural and political entity. The palace speaks to all of us in terms of our beauty, radiance, taste, tradition, culture, worldview, hopes and aspirations as a people. It ought to be inherently and aesthetically a tourism destination. It is from this standpoint therefore, that it has become imperative for this column once again and with all sense of responsibility to call for the construction of a new palace for the Eze Aro throne.
The new palace should occupy a land space of not less than 10000 square meters. It should be located in Oror or Barracks where there should be adequate land space. When completed the new palace should have a museum, sporting facilities such as lawn tennis court, library, special visitor’s lodge and amphi-theatre for socio-cultural and political activities, gymnasium, etc. The new palace will serve as the official residence of anybody who is coronated and subsequently ascends the throne of Eze Aro. It will be built and maintained by Aro people through the guidance and leadership of Nzuko Aro.
In the event of the death of a sitting Eze Aro, the palace will be vacated by his family soon after the mourning period, and they will retire to the personal residence of the deceased, so as to allow for renovation of the palace for the incoming Eze-Aro.
In this way, the maintenance of the palace will always be under the direct supervision of Nzuko Aro and perhaps the local government through its chieftaincy affairs unit. The new palace will become a tourist attraction and destination, which will add to the aesthetic value and tourism mileage of the kingdom. In constructing the new palace, great care should be taken in promoting Aro history and civilization; Aro culture, tradition; taste, belief system, colours, costumes, artifacts, etc. These shall be deliberately and painstakingly incorporated in the architectural design and decorational fittings of the new palace.
Some people may query the need for a new palace or building one outside Oror village. The important issue should be where there is availability of the required land size, so far as it is within Arochukwu. If the required land size is available in Oror, then there would not be any need whatsoever going to Barracks or elsewhere. But, maintaining a status quo that is stifling or inhibits innovative expansion should be discountenanced in the interest of Arochukwu. Such arguments stem from the stables of the retrogressive minded and can never engender collective progress in any way.
What is tradition? It is whatever is practised by a group of people who shares the same ideas. Our ancestors sat down and articulated most of the things which were passed down to us as culture and traditions. Some of those things were not even original, but were borrowed from other places as they travelled widely as traders. It is therefore incumbent on us to elevate most of those things, modifying them where necessary in order for them to fit into the 21st century setting; ideals; aspirations,norms, taste, etc.
For instance, in Calabar, the Palace of the Obong of Calabar is independent of the Ruling Houses. It belongs to the people. The Ruling houses present an Obong to the community, who upon coronation and consequent ascension to the Throne leaves his personal house and moves over to the renovated Palace. There is nothing wrong in Aro kingdom adopting good practices elsewhere, so far as they protect the integrity, pride and honour of Arochukwu.
Thus, modernizing the official residence of the paramount ruler of Arochukwu kingdom and taking over its construction and maintenance is totally in line with the progressive and openminded-ness of the people.
There is absolutely nothing untraditional about building a befitting palace for the Eze Aro throne. It is something worthy and patriotic to do. As a first-class stool, we all know better. It is therefore the duty of each succeeding generation to effect meaningful changes which are reasonable and elevating of the values and ethos inherited from those before them. Maintaining the status-quo in the name of conservatism or tradition is only a retrogressive way of reasoning which negates wisdom and impedes on collective progress.
Consequently, constructing a befitting palace for the Eze Aro throne is an important project that will elevate the socio-cultural and political standing of Arochukwu kingdom. It will enhance the prestige of the palace and Aro people with such dividends that can only multiply in value as the years go by -with each succeeding generation bringing to the table their own ideas and brickwork -which add to the overall collective progress of the kingdom. Thus, the entire people of Arochukwu, through the Nzuko Aro should see this as a call to duty, and embrace this new project by prioritising it in the coming year and setting a timeline for its completion. The project when completed will no doubt enhance the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Eze Aro Throne. So, let us set our heart and mind to it in order to complete it in record time. The Aro Eze Palace is part of our heritage, it is our duty to upgrade it by constructing a befitting palace that truly belongs to the Aro kingdom. The ball is now in the court of Nzuko Aro to provide the needed quality leadership in this regard.