Arochukwu

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Arochukwu
Aro-Okigbo
City
Arochukwu is located in Nigeria
Arochukwu
Arochukwu
Location of Arochukwu in Nigeria
Coordinates: 5°23′N 7°55′E / 5.383°N 7.917°E / 5.383; 7.917
Country  Nigeria
State Abia State
Composition 19 villages
Government
 • Type Monarchy (One of the few kingdoms in Nigeria, which practices the monarchical system of government)
 • Eze Aro Ogbonnaya Okoro[1]
Area
 • Total 202 sq mi (524 km2)
Population
 • Ethnicities Igbo, Ibibio, Akpa
 • Religions Christianity, Traditional religions
3-digit postal code prefix 442
ISO 3166 code NG.AB.AR

Arochukwu, sometimes referred to as Arochuku, or Aro-Okigbo, (pronounced Aruchukwu) is the third largest city in Abia State (after Aba and Umuahia) in southeastern Nigeria and homeland of the Igbo subgroup, Aro people. It is composed of 19 villages with an overall leader called Eze Aro. Arochukwu is a principal historic town in Igboland. It was also one of the cities in the Southern protectorate targeted by the British colonial government. Several historic tourist sites exist in the city. The mystic Ibini Ukpabi shrine, the slave routes and other relics of the slave trade era are frequently visited by tourists. It is also in the food belt of Abia state where most of the staple foods are produced.

History[edit]

Main article: Aro History

Arochukwu is believed to have been the homeland of the Ibibio as they arrived in 300 AD from the Benue valley and founded early states like Obong Okon Ita and Ibom. Many years passed as Igbo immigrants came along and pressed into the Ibibio occupied territory and founded several states. The first Igbo group were the Ezeagwu group led by their leader Agwu Inobia. As Aro-Ibibio wars occurred, there was a stalemate. In reaction, the Eze Agwu clan invited a priest named Nnachi from the Edda clan of northeastern Igboland and another group from the east of the Cross River through Nnachi. These people were identified as the Akpa people. Akpa forces led by Osim and Akuma Nnubi, they helped the Igbo forces capture the rest of the area. This formed the alliance of 19 new and old states in the area known as the Arochukwu kingdom around 1650-1700. The first king (or Eze Aro) of a unified Arochukwu was Akuma but after his death, Nnachi son's Oke Nnachi took over and his descendants have the throne to this day.

By the mid-18th century, there were mass migrations of several Aro business families into the Igbo hinterland and adjacent areas. This migration, influence of their god Ibini Ukpabi through priests, and their military power backed up 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 in the wake of the 20th century. Tensions finally led to bloodshed and the Anglo-Aro War took place from 1901-1902. The Aro Confederacy stoutly resisted but were eventually defeated. This helped the British to occupy the rest of what is now known as Eastern Nigeria.

The city of Onitsha was founded by Igbo group from Arochukwu under the leadership of Eze Chima. People of Arochukwu founded many other communities both within and outside Igboland.[2][3]

Arochukwu played a significant role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 1600-1800 AD. The Aro confederacy (Aro slave traders) scattered throughout the hinterlands of the Igbo nation, in coalition with several Igbo tribal leaders orchestrated the sale of over 4 million Igbo sons and daughters during the transatlantic slave trade. Many Igbo slaves who were shipped from the slave outposts in Calabar and Bonny to Europe and the Americas, were first assembled in Arochukwu,and then transported to Calabar or Bonny via the Aro Blue River which pours into the Atlantic ocean. Most Igbo slaves were shipped to North Carolina and Virginia, in the United States. Igbo slaves were also shipped to the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba.

Demography[edit]

The kingdom is mostly Igbo with Ibibio and Akpa minorities. The main language in Arochukwu is Igbo while Ibibio is also spoken.

Etymology[edit]

Arochukwu is one of the only cities in Igboland named after God. Though named after God, it was named this before the advent of Christianity in Igboland, stemming from the belief in one supreme being. Aro translates as Spear and Chukwu as God. Put together this could imply Spear of God.

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nwogu, Mathas (August 19, 2009). "Aro Kingdom re-brands after 700 years". The Sun Publishing LTD. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  2. ^ Afigbo, AE. Groundwork of Igbo History. Lagos, Vista Books Limited, 1992
  3. ^ Onwuejeogwu, MA. Igbo civilization: Nri kingdom and hegemony; London, Ethnographica, 1981

Coordinates: 5°23′N 7°55′E / 5.383°N 7.917°E / 5.383; 7.917 Victor Oil Merchant