As obvious as the answer to the above question may seem, recent events suggest that seeking some clarification as to the true ownership and mission of the AAUSA platform has become imperative. Shortly after its 2013 Convention hosted by Washington, DC which held from May 24-27 (Memorial Day Weekend) at Best Western Hotel Lanham, MD, I got several calls from attendees about the proceedings at the Convention. An official trip to the United Kingdom about same time aborted my initial plan to attend. The news was, to say the least, very disturbing as it runs counter to the vision and ideals of the founding fathers of AAUSA. For a better perspective on the issues, perhaps, it’s worth refreshing our memory that the AAUSA, a non-profit organization, was established in August, 1997, following a National Conference that was held in Dallas, Texas. Its aims and objectives included, amongst others, to unite and promote peaceful coexistence and understanding among all people of Aro descent, to establish cordiality and networking among the Aros and Ndigbo at large, to always seek areas of common interest or common grounds in defining problems and determine their solutions, to promote Aro culture, heritage and history and to work closely with Eze Aro in matters affecting Aros. Emphasis in the underlined phrase is mine. Also, its membership is open to every Nzuko Umu Aro as well as associations of Aro Diaspora operating in USA. There is no gain saying the fact that AAUSA has since its inception demonstrated good citizenship by mobilizing material and human resources that are channeled towards the development of Arochukwu kingdom. One notable area is in the provision of medicare.
At the end of each medical mission, AAUSA team leaves behind drugs and equipment in care of resident medical personnel to continue with its administration. As editor-in-chief of Aro News several years back, i saluted AAUSA on the commendable initiative because Umu-Aro gained immensely from this noble action of her children who, though in far away abode, didn’t forget their cradle, which is the standard bearer of collective essence. Hitherto, our people suffered untold hardship in the area of primary health care. The only general hospital in Aro, which also serves neighboring communities, had for decades remained in a parlous state; with rotted and dilapidated structures, gross lack of personnel, equipment, drugs, etc. Thus, Umu-Aro in dire need of health services suffered and in some cases died needlessly for ailments as common as malaria, typhoid fever or pregnancy related cases. AAUSA medical program changed this situation to a large extent. It is against this backdrop, that one considers very unhealthy a situation whereby AAUSA will allow its platform to be used for interests that will, at best, challenge Aro’s corporate existence.
A convention attendee narrated ugly stories that started right from the pre-convention dinner when issues bothering on the affairs of the kingdom and the role of the three kindred took center stage resulting in major disagreement between the protagonists. With the motto of “TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE”, it behooves on AAUSA as an umbrella association of Umu-Aro in USA, an environment reputed for cultured and enlightened manners, to lead the way by showing others how to co-exist peacefully under the suzerainty of His Majesty, the Eze Aro of Arochukwu. Indeed, this situation calls to question the kind of relationship that exists and that suppose to exist between AAUSA and Nzuko Arochukwu.
As an umbrella Aro organization in USA, is AAUSA affiliated to Nzuko Arochukwu Worldwide as a branch and what does that relationship mean in its modus operandi? Could it represent itself on Aro matters or be taken seriously outside the fold of Nzuko Arochukwu on issues pertaining to the kingdom? No doubt, the present leadership of AAUSA, having just been elected, may not have settled down enough to appreciate what challenge the complexity of administering the body presents. That notwithstanding, its important they do not give in to naivety by surrendering its platform for causes that do not promote Aro’s common interest, thus unwittingly negating one of the cardinal objectives of its existence. Its past leaders and patrons should, as a matter of necessity, provide leadership to the new exco and guide it aright. As the past leadership of Nzuko Arochukwu cautioned, it is difficult to divide Umu-Aro. Beyond historical and cultural homogeneity, the three kindred are interwoven. There is no geographical delineation between each kindred and no kindred has a geographical contiguity. Any tendency to create division will therefore be a futile exercise and will lead to break down in law and order. This column noted years back that Arochukwu, with its vast network of settlements within and outside, remains an enigma that cannot be wholly comprehended. Communities of Umu Aro, especially those that exist outside this shore, hold great potentials for the development of the kingdom if properly harnessed. Courtesy of several trips overseas, I saw communities of Umu Aro, seriously organized doing their own things but with little or no linkage with Aro central organization. In US, the All-Aro USA presents a good platform which UK, Canada, etc could adopt. In fact, Nzuko Arochukwu can realize any project via the collective efforts and contributions of these groups when strategically developed.