Aro people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Aro people
Flag of the Aro Confederacy.svg
Flag of the Aro Confederacy
Total population
Upwards of 1 million
Regions with significant populations
Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, United Kingdom
Languages
Igbo, Ibibio, several Cross River languages
Religion
Christianity, Traditional
Related ethnic groups
Igbo, Ibibio, Ekoi, Ijo, Igala, Idoma, Efik

The Aro people or Aros is an Igbo subgroup with Akpa and Ibibio elements who originated from Arochukwu kingdom in present day Abia state, Southeastern Nigeria. The Aros can also be found in about 250 other settlements mostly in the Southeastern region and adjacent areas. The Aros today are mostly classified as Eastern or Cross River Igbos due to their location, culture, and dialect. Their god, Ibini Ukpabi, was a key factor in establishing the Aro Confederacy as a regional power in Southeastern Nigeria during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Origins and history[edit]

Main article: Aro history

The history of the Aros predates Igbo migration and founding of the kingdom of Arochukwu. Before Igbos started arriving to the Aro region in the 17th century, Ibibios arrived from the Benue and plateau area and founded states such as Obong Okon Ita and Ibom west of the Cross River. Igbo migrations led by the Eze Agwu clan from the north into the Aro region started in the mid-17th century which led to tensions. The Aro-Ibibio wars and the migration of the Akpa from east of the Cross River, formed the nation during the turning point of the 17th century to the 18th century. The Igbo and Akpa alliance, defeated and assimilated the original Ibibio inhabitants after long years of warfare. By this time, the palm oil and slave trade was popular in the hinterland. By the mid-18th century, there were mass migrations of Aro businessmen to the Igbo hinterland and adjacent areas. This migration, influence of their god Ibini Ukpabi through priests, and their military power supported by alliances with several related neighboring Igbo and eastern Cross River militarized states (particularly Ohafia, Abam, Abiriba, Afikpo, Ekoi, etc.) quickly established the Aro Confederacy as a regional economic power. However, Aro economic hegemony was threatened by the penetration of Europeans, mainly British colonists towards the end of the 19th century. Tensions finally led to bloodshed, and the Anglo-Aro war took place from 1901 to 1902. The Aro Confederacy stoutly resisted but eventually suffered defeat. This helped the British to occupy the rest of what became Eastern Nigeria.

Tradition[edit]

The Aros have a rich tradition. One factor is the Ekpe society which is a sacred cult originally from east of the Cross River. The highly religious and judicial cult took a major part in Aro cultism. The use of the writing system, Nsibidi, was based on secret societies like Ekpe. Uli, another writing system, occurred mostly in the form of body art.

Another factor is the Ibini Ukpabi shrine, who was a mediating god among the Aros. They influenced neighbors and allies before the British invasion. The shrine was later corrupted, commercialized, and used for selling slaves during the slave trade. The Ekeleke masquerade activity was important in Aro settlements rather than Ekpe. Brought from the Aros in the western Niger Delta, it eventually spread to the Oguta area. They also were known for wearing the popular "George" cloth. The Ikperikpe warrior dance was very famous among warriors in the old days and continues to in use.

Largest settlements in Eastern Nigeria[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]