Arondizuogu is a group of sprawling communities with the largest area located in the land obtained from Umualaoma town (formerly Isiokpu). Some believe that this land was obtained by begging, trickery, guerrilla warfare and open massacre of people from Umualaoma. However, this is a matter of perspective.
Arondizuogu is in Imo State of Nigeria. Most of the wars were stopped by one powerful charismatic Patriarch of the host community (Isokpu) by the name Ezerioha Udensi of Obiokwara, Obinihu, Umualaoma(Isuokpu). Ezerioha has subsequently organised peaceful allocation or donation of land by different villages and towns close to Arondizuogu after cleverly discovering that Arondizuogu people cannot go back to Aro Chukwu.
Arondizuogu communities are spread out into three local government areas: Ideato North, Okigwe and Onuimo according to the various indegenous villages were the lands were obtained through the same means.
Arondizuogu was founded by the use of force by Mazi Izuogu Mgbokpo and Chief Iheme in the mid-18th century. Izuogu Mgbokpo was a charismatic slave merchant who came from Arochukwu and used to pass through Umualaoma(Isokpu) on his way to Awka in search of slaves. He was usually haboured by a friend from Umualaoma where he slept, and later with his soldiers when going in search of slaves and with his goods (slaves) when coming back en route Calabar. Iheme, himself, was his Chief Servant and he came from Isi-Akpu Nise, in Awka. Both the master and the chief servant decided to kill their host and his relations, take and settle in the land when they noticed that the British colonial masters had settled at Okigwe to block their route to make the abolition of slave trade in the hintherland more effective.Iheme and his master Izuogu used all the arsenals at their disposal including the slaves, juju, guns and the equipments for securing slaves which they got from the European slave marchants to kill, main, massacre, deciminate and exterminate en masse their unsuspecting host communities at night or markets and occupy their land. So many villages in Arondizuaogu are bearing the original name of the Umualaoma (formerly called Isuokpu) village and other villages from other towns that they exterminated to occupy the land. Most of the people of the present day Arondizuogu are descendants of people who faced different types of challenges and persecution that they ran from towns and villages in the present day Anambara, Abia, Imo and Enugu States. With time, Izuogu and his people (Ndizuogu) united with Iheme and his people (Ndiheme)to form the Aro kingdom of Arondizuogu which eventually became one of the largest states in the Aro Confederacy. Commonly, Arondizuogu people refer to themselves as "Izuogu na Iheme".
Early in the 19th century, Mazi Okoli Idozuka was an immigrant from Isi-Akpu Nise to Arondizuogu. As a great slave warrior, he expanded Arondizuogu's boundaries by recklessly killing women and children and other people at night and market days and was known as the chief of staff. He later changed his name to Okoro Idozuka, an Aro equivalent of his former name. He was a wealthy ruthless and almost conscienceless slave trader like Izuogu Mgbokpo but was also a great leader. Nwankwo Okoro was the first son of Okoro Idozuka. At the age of 21 he joined his father in the slave trade. He killed anybody who dared to challenge him or who he wanted his wealth or he simply wanted to humiliate. He once said "I must visit any town that crosses my way and nothing will prevent me from attacking them with my great troops".* By collecting slaves and war-captives he was able to build a very large family. When the British came, they made him a Warrant Chief because they believed he could subdue any body and collect the tax they desperately needed for they them. Until this day, Arondizuogu is the biggest former Aro colony and a land of immigrants settling mainly on the rich land owned by Umualaoma, Uzii, Akokwa, Ibura, Umunze, Umuduru Egbeaguru, Umueshi, Agbobu, Umuobom, Okigwe and a host of other towns.This expansionist warriors were stopped and allowed the land already obtained by Ezerioha Udensi, the father of Ezeagwula Ezerioha of Obiokwara Umualaoma (Isuokpu). Ezerioha Udensi later donated some well defined portion of land to the late Chief Obioha Okereke Etobi under a friendship agreement of perpetual peaceful coexistence devoid of war and rancour. The different villages of the people of Arondizuogu used to pay homage to Umualaoma people at Obi Ezerioha, Obiokwara in Obinihu village (Agbualla) for the good gesture of peaceful allocation of some peace of land by late Chief Ezerioha Udensi and his brothers. In every Ikeji festival, late Chief Ezerioha Udensi, his people and later Ezeagwula Ezerioha and their descendants were and are specially honoured by Ndi Arondizuogu, sigifying that the land where Ikeji festival is held belongs to Isuokpu (Umualaoma) and also that acquisition of land from the host communities were not always by force and cruel brutality as recorded by some earlier historians. Some parts of Arondizuogu still pay homage to Isuokpu (Umualaoma) people at Obi Ezerioha in Obiokwara Obinihu till this day in gratitude to the good and peaceful settlement, human fruitfulness and fertility and abundance of the land and protection by Ezerioha Udensi. Little seems to be known about the role that the women of Arondizuogu played in society.
Some Places of Interest in Arondizuogu include Mazi Mbonu Ojike Cottage (Village home of Nigeria's late "BOYCOTT KING”), Mazi Mbonu Ojike at Ndiakeme Uno; Uno Ogologo (a safe house built in 1887 for hiding children during the slave trade era); The Stone Palace (a storey building cast in stone erected by late Chief Green Mbadiwe, West Africa’s first millionaire for his father,Umualaoma Nkwo Ochie (old Nkwo).
Mbadiwe Odum at Ndianiche Uno); Ngeze (legendary stream at Ndiakeme Uno); Ogbuti Ezumezu (exotic visitor’s chamber of Ikeji music maestro Pericomo Okoye at Ndiogbuonyeoma Ofe Imo; LN Motel Plaza (luxury hospitality rendezvous at Ndiukwu); National High School, Arondizuogu (pioneer model school built by community effort and commissioned in 1951 at Ndiakeme Uno); Iheme Memorial Secondary School (second model school built by community effort and commissioned 1951 at Ndianiche Uno); Palace of The People (legendary country home of grandiloquent Nigerian politician, Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe at Ndianiche Uno commissioned by late Prime minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa in 1965); Upiti (expansive rice fields at Akeme Ohiauchu); Obi Omenuko, homestead of Igwegbe Odum (Omenuko), the hero of Pita Nwana’s book; Ngene Okwe (natural spring at Ndiawa). Obi Ezerioha in Obiokwara, Obinihu (Agbualla) Umualaoma where the agreement for the peaceful donation of several portions of land presently occupied by Arondizuogu were signed not only by Isuokpu but also by other towns and villages that Ezerioha Udensi encouraged to donate land to Arondizuogu, thus significantly signifying transition from bestiality to civility; Ndiogbu onye oma (people famous for killing good and handsome or beautiful people and selling their relations to slave dealers).
Geography and people
Ndi izuogu live many local governments in Imo State. Although they have almost the same dialect with the group of Igbos in Anambra state, apart from Ndi Uche (the controversial first son of Izuogu)that still retain another dialect. The local Government they inhabit include Okigwee,Ideator and Onuimo.
Arondizuogu is made up of 20 Towns and 10 Autonomous Communities. Each autonomous has its own "Eze" (as the traditional ruler recognised by the State Government are called) viz: Awa - Izuogu Autonomous Community (which is the Crown Head of Arondizuogu) with HRH Eze Oliver Mbadiwe Dike III (Eze Ozuomba) who succeeded his late father HRM Eze John Anyaogu Dike II (Ezediohanma), Ndiuche Autonomous Community with HRH Eze Jonas.E Uche, Iheme Autonomous Community with HRH Eze Kossman Ndubuisi Kanu, Ejezie Izuogu Autonomous Community with HRH Eze Dr. M.O. Kanu (Ochiri ozuo), Akeme Autonomous Community with HRH Eze Michael Nwosu(ugo ocha), Aro-Umuduru Autonomous community with HRH Eze Obioha Okereke, and Aro-Amuro Autonomous Community with HRH Eze Prof. Green Onyekaba Nwankwo as their traditional rulers.
There are 20 Towns in Arondizuogu. Some of these Towns claim to be the original sons of Izuogu while some are not aborigines to Izuogu. It is still controversial on the Issue of the first son of Izuogu. The Uche people (Ndi Uche)still claim to be the first son of Izuogu despite the fact that Awa (Ndi Awa)was taken and blessed by Izuogu as the first son. It is unfortunate that Aro-Okigwe is not in Okigwe local Government map. Although they are reorganized to be part of Okigwe.This is why most developments have been made possible through community efforts. The town has observed limited or no government development in terms of infrastructure, roads, water and electricity, thus most communities have managed to drill boreholes, bring in power supply, construct roads and bridges, build schools and community health centres, by levying members of the community. The government of Imo state for some undefined reason has blatantly refused to bring sustainable development to the Arondizuogu community, despite the sacrifices and effort made by sons and daughters of Arondizuogu in bringing about the creation of the state. Izuogu Community and their locations: 1. Ndi Awa – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Aro Umulolo (c)Ndi Awa Aro-Okigwe 2. Ndi Uche – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Umuduru (near Aniche Uwakonye) (c) Ikpatu (Ofe Imo) (d) Aro Onu Imo (e)Ndi Uche Umunna (in Aro-okigwe) 3. Ndi Njoku – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Aro Amuro (c) Aro Okigwe (d) Ikpa Akanu 4. Imoko– Ndi: Imoko Ochie uno, Obinetiti and Aro-okigwe (a) Imoko 5. Ndi Amazu – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ikpa Akaputa (c) Ikpa Ocha (d)Ndiamzu Otu Ama (e) Ndi Okoli Igbo (f) Aro Amuro (g) Ikpa Akwu 6. Ndi Ejezie – (a) Ndi Ejezie 7. Ndi Adimoha – (a) Ndi Adimoha 8. Ndi Anyake – (a) Ndi Anyake 9. Ndiawa Uwaonu – (a) Aro Okigwe 10. Ndi Ucheagwu – (a) Aro Umulolo 11. Ndi Ndubisi – (a) Aro Umulolo Iheme Community and their locations: 1. Ndi Aniche – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Obinetiti (c) Uwakonye (d) Ndi be Ezeana (e) Ndi be Ogbuda, (f) Ikpenyi (g) Ogene 2. Ndi Onuoha – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ofe Imo (c) Aro Umulolo 3. Ikpa Eze – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Aro Umulolo (c) Aro Ofe Imo (d) Umuedi 4. Ndi Okonkwo – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ofe Imo 5. Ndi Ogbuonyeoma – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ndi be Uche (c) Umudike (d) Okwu Achara (e) Umuedi (f) Umu Orji 6. Ndi Akeme – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ohia Uchu (c) Ikpa Okoli (d) Nduka (e) Ugwaku (f)Ndi Akaeme (Aro Okigwe) 7. Ndi Ukwu – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Ofe Imo 8. Ndi Akunwanta – (a) Ochie Uno (b) Nkwo Fada (c) Idozuka (Aro Umulolo)
Instituted in 1948, ‘Arondizuogu Day’ which is an annual end-of year convention of people of Arondizuogu descent resident in Nigeria and the Diaspora. It is a day set aside to celebrate achievements, review challenges, and generally keep the flag of patriotism flying in the community. For the culture – loving people of Arondizuogu, the day is a special annual homecoming which they celebrate with much aplomb comparable only to their popular Ikeji Festival which is touted to be “the greatest carnival of masks and masquerades in Africa”.
Ikeji cultural festival of Arondizuogu in Imo State is a popular festival that brings the Igbo speaking community around the world together. Its origin dates back to over five centuries and it is acclaimed as the biggest pan-Igbo cultural community festival with strong heritage, international recognition and is witnessed by thousands of people on a yearly basis. It is arguably the biggest cultural festival in Igboland. In contemporary times, each passing year has witnessed an increase in grandeur, display, dance, sophistication and an all inclusive participation of all Arondizuogu people and friends. The festival is marked with colourful display of different masquerades such as Ogionu, Mgbadike, Nwaaburuja and Ozoebune; prestigiously parading across the market square to the admiration of the public. The essence of the festival, which ranks among the best surviving traditional ceremonies of the Arondizuogu people, is to celebrate the harvest of the first yams. It serves to unify and foster ties among Aro people who are spread across the entire Igbo speaking states and part of Cross River state. It appeals to the entire Igbo speaking peoples both at home and in the Diaspora.
Ikeji is a four-day festival of propitiation, thanksgiving and feasting which is held annually in March or April. Reckoned with the Igbo calendar, these four days correspond to one Igbo week of four market days (Eke, Oye/Orie, Afo and Nkwo). Each of these days has a special significance and represents one of the several dimensions of Ikeji – a festival renowned for sumptuous feasting, fascinating masquerades, pulsating rhythms, and colourful performances. Traditional musical instruments used to accompany the masquerades are ekwe (wooden slit drum) of various sizes, ogene (metal gong), bells, maracas and oja (wooden flutes). The flutist is a very important element in the ikeji festival. He deftly communicates with the masquerades - weaving soulful melodies and blending esoteric messages into the intoxicating rhythm of the drums. Another interesting aspect of ikeji is the raconteur known as ima mbem - an imaginative tale delivered with a musical cadence that only the initiated can sometimes understand or comprehend. The importance of the flutist during Ikeji festival is very vital, for he communicates things hidden from the ordinary eyes to the masquerades, combined with soulful melodies, steps and gestures, “blending esoteric messages into the intoxicating rhythm of the drums” to the admiration of the crowd.
During Ikeji festival,ON THE LAST DAY, a ram is usually tied to a pole at a popular market square with a single thread.Somebody with the strongest protection from any juju of whatever type is expected to leisurely walk to the ram amids heavy attempt with juju from other people to knock him down, maim him or kill him.Only the brave can participate in, while the NOT SO BRAVE will either abstain from or remain with the crowd as spectators. Only the brave can stand forward from the crowd, one after another and approach the tree with a view to untying the ram. However, each contender will be attacked by forces which are beyond the scope of this article to explain, with a view to stopping him reaching the ram. If overwhelmed, he will beat a retreat back to his starting point. Until eventually, the bravest among the masquerades participating in the competition for that year’s festival, after overcoming all odds, will reach the ram and untie it and take it, to a thunderous applause by the spectators. This will be followed by visits to his house by fellow kinsmen with food and wine for elevating the status of his village. Each year this is used to commemorate the person in Arondizuogu and neighbouring towns with the strongest juju or voodoo power.
Arondizuogu Patriotic Union
Arondizuogu Patriotic Union (APU) is the umbrella organisation of all Arondizuogu communities in Nigeria and the Diaspora. Established in 1932 in Aba, APU is one of the earliest and most enduring organs of community development set up by an Igbo clan in colonial Nigeria. The youngmen of Arondizuogu who laid the foundation for APU left their homes for the first time in the 1920s and early 1930s to seek a better life in the emerging urban centres of colonial Nigeria. They found themselves in social, economic and political environments different from the life they knew at home. Refusing to be intimated or alienated, they held on to that deep feeling of love for the community with which they grew up. They assembled at Aba on October 8, 1932 to aggregate ideas on how best to convey the concomitants of modern development with which they were surrounded in the city (such as wide roads, schools, hospitals, post offices, portable water, electricity, court rooms, etc.)to their village community.
- http://frasouzu.com/Issues%20and%20Papers/Ambience.htm cf. Asouzu, Innocent I. (2004), The Method and Principles of Complementary in and beyond African Philosophy, Calabar University Press; Asouzu, Innocent I. (2005), The Method and Principles of Complementary Reflection in and beyond African Philosophy, Lit Publishers, Münster, 2005.
- Complementary Reflection, African Philosophy and General Issues in Philosophy at the Wayback Machine (archived April 29, 2006)
- Uche Ohia (2007), Patriotism and Community Development: A History of Arondizuogu Patriotic Union (APU), Silverduck Services Ltd, Aba, Owerri, Abuja
- Mazi Obi Okoli (2011) The Lost Igbo Treasure, London UK: Arondizuogu Patriotic Union UK book
Comrade V.I.Nwafor (AKA) Attorney, Nwa Ndiawa, based in South Africa. (The son of Late Chief Boniface O. Nwafor),(AKA)Mazi Bob.,O.G.B Igwegbe(AKA)Cross Border Investment (Aku Bata Obi of Ndiawa Izuogu)