The Aro Confederacy

The Aro Confederacy

Arochuckwu Earlier days

The Aro people are the people of an Igbo subgroup and a little section of the Akpa that originated from the Arochukwu kingdom the now present-day Abia State.

In the earliest days, Arochukwu Kingdom was home to an Ibibio clan. The Ibibo also established the early states of Obong Okon Ita and Ibom.

The Aros’ history predates the Igbo migration and the establishment of the kingdom of Arochukwu. A group of Proto Ibibio moved to the Aro region before the Igbos arrived in the 17th century. The Proto Ibibio group descended from Usak Edet (Isanguele), a branch of the Ejagham in modern-day Southern Cameroon. Igbo immigration into the Aro region began in the mid-17th century, led by Eze Agwu and Nnachi. It was also followed by the migration of the Akpa from east of the Cross River. Additionally, the Igbo and Akpa formed the nation during the turning point of the 17th century to the 18th century.

The indigenous Ibibio fought these Igbo immigrants but were defeated. The Igbo and Akpa alliance assimilated the original Ibibio inhabitants after long years of warfare.

Akpa soldiers headed by Osim and Akuma Nnubi assisted the dissident group in capturing the remainder of the territory. Around 1650–1700, this also produced an alliance of 19 new and ancient states in the area known as the Arochukwu kingdom. Akuma was the first monarch (or Eze Aro) of a united Arochukwu. After his death, Nnachi’s sons Oke Nnachi took over, and his descendants still hold the kingdom today.

The Aro Confederacy Spread and the Slave Trade

The Aros spread across the length and breadth of the East in pre-colonial times, establishing trading posts wherever they went. They also brought the devotion of the one ultimate God to these locations, evident in Chukwu Abiama and Ibini Ukpabi. The worship cave temples can still be discovered in Arochukwu today. Despite possessing a formidable army of Ohafia, Abam, and Abiriba warriors to protect them, the Aros never invaded or ruled over any of these areas, their primary concern being fair commerce and the propagation of the Chukwu gospel.

The Aro Confederacy was a large slave-trading network and league of Igbo and Cross River allies led by the Aro people which flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Aro influence reached across parts of Nigeria’s West Delta region, the entire Eastern region, and Southern Igala. Additionally, it extended through parts of present-day Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The Arochukwu Kingdom was an economic, political, and oracular centre as it was home to the powerful Long Juju oracle, the Aro King, Chiefs, and High Priests. The Aro people began slave trading activities around Igbo and Ibibio lands.

In the old Igbo culture, anyone who enters a shrine and begs the deity of the shrine for help instantly becomes an osu, a slave of the shrine and a social outcast. The priests of the Ibini Ukpabi oracle of the Aro people exploited this in order to force travellers and pilgrims into slavery. The agents of the oracle would pose as bandits and chase their victims into the shrine, hoping they would beg the intervention of the god and become osu, so the priests could then sell them off for profit.

SEE: Iwa Akwa -The initiation of boys to Men

This activity became very popular as coastal Niger Delta city-states became important centres for the export of slaves. Such city-states included Opobo, Bonny, Brass, and Calabar, as well as other slave trading city-states controlled by the Ijaw, Efik, and Igbo.

Additionally, the Aros formed a strong trading network and incorporated hundreds of communities that formed into powerful kingdoms. The Ajalli, Arondizuogu, and also Bende Kingdoms were the most powerful Aro powers in the Confederacy after Arochukwu.

 The Aro confederacy settlement

  • Aro Ajatakiri: In Ikwuano, Umuahia, Abia State
  • Aro Achara: In Ama-asa, Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
  •  In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State – Aro Umu Nkpe.
  • Aro Nbawsi: In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
  • Aro Omoba: In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
  •  In the Ikwuano area of Abia State – Aro Okporoenyi.
  • Aro Iyama: In Ikwuano, area of Abia State.
  • Aro Amuru: In Ikwuano, area of Abia State.
  • In Ideato area of Imo State – Aro Ndizuogu.
  • Aro Ndi Ikerionwu: In Anambra State.
  • Aro Ajalli: In Anambra State.
  • In Ebonyi State -Aro Nzerem.
  • In the Udi area of Enugu State -Aro Amokwe.
  • Aro Isuochi: In Abia State.
  • Aro Isiokpo/Igwurita Ikwerre area in Rivers State.
  • In Anambra State – Aro Abagana.
  • Aro Oru: In Imo State.
  • Aro Nempi: In Imo State
  • In Abia State – Aro Ngwa.
  • Also in Enugu State – Aro Ezeagu.
  • Aro Achi: In Enugu State.
  • Aro Oboro Ite
  • In Rivers State – Aro Kalabari.
  • Aro Opobo, also in Rivers State.
  • In Abia State – Aro Uturu.
  • Aro Anwu Anwu: Eziukwu Durunnihe in Umudurunna ABBA Nwangele LGA Imo State
  • Aro Okija (Ndi Ezennia Awa Okoro Orji): Anambra State
  • In oguta area of Imo state – Aro Egbuoma
  • Also in Imo state, Aro Abba, Nwangele
  • And the origin, the Arochukwu




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