IGBO HISTORY: THE ARO SETTLEMENTS AND THE CONFEDERACY.
The Aro confederacy has its roots in the founding of Aro Chukwu, Arochukwu is situated by the Enyong creek and the Aro side of the creek is called Unene while the Ibibio side is called Iwere.
Aro Chukwu clan or group has three lineages, the Eze Agwu, the Oke Nnachi and the Ibom isii, They coalesced to form the current Aro people in the following order,
Eze Agwu Nnobia led his group from a North Easternly direction on the Eastern banks of the River Cross across on the western bank to settle in the current location of Aro, some accounts say he was a descendant of Oti Eze son of Ife Nta from whom the Ohafia(Uduma Eze), Edda (Imoh Eze) and Abam(Onyerubi Eze) are also descended, Oti is hailed as a supreme ancestor of the Aros.
They met the Ibibio in the new land they had settled, the aborigines of the land had been some Ekoid groups known as the Nchalagha and the Losi before the Ibibio also settled alongside, so when the Aro came they found these three groups domiciled there and lived with them until some disagreement over a marriage sparked the Aro ibibio wars, which ended in a stalemate, prompting Eze Agwu Nnobia to call the assistance of an Edda Chief Priest, Nnachi Ipia, after they struck a deal with Akpokpo Okon the half brother of the Ibibio Chief at Obong Oko Ita which failed, they enlisted the help of some clan of Akpa warriors from Akamkpa in cross River, they new clan were led by Osim and Akum Nnubi, they defeated the Ibibio and that was how Arochukwu was founded, The defeated and assimilated Ibibio formed the Ibom-isii lineage of Arochukwu and Obinkita (said to be a corruption of obong oko ita) the Eze Agwu lineage were formed by the Eze Agwu group while the Oke Nnachi lineage were comprised of Nnachi and Akpa descendants, Akum Nnubi was the first Eze Aro.
With the founding of Aro, it didn’t take long before they grew into a powerful clan, quite adept in blacksmithing, mercantile activities and their most ingenious invention of all, the shrines and the settlements, Three things marked the Aro rise to power: slaves, the shrines and the settlements.
As the Aro expanded they wandered through the hinterland establishing settlements, markets and shrines for the sole purpose of trade which were largely comprosed of slaves, they were able to build a vast slave empire, a connection of Aro settlements and shrines which had a stranglehold on all Southern Igbo society and would shape them forever.
To build their settlement and hold their power the Aro took with them warrior clans such as their fellow ife Nta people: Ohafia, Edda Abam, Enna and even Ekoi mercenaries, These were renown head hunters and could clear entire villages.
One typical example is the Aro Chief Izuogu Mgbokpo and Ikpa Ora who led his Aro/Abam warriors to sack and pillage the original Isuama settlement of Ikpa Ora, and founded Aro Izuogu in it’s place.
Another example is Okpo Nwagidi the founder of Isiokpo (currently in Ikwerre LGA Rivers State) who came from an Aro settlement in Ozuzu Etche.
In a similar fashion, prominent Aro men went round founding settlements, Ekpe lodges and Markets just to ensure their network and free flow of slaves and goods went down to the port.
There is hardly any part of Southern Igbo land that does not have Aro settlements today, from Izombe to Atta in Owerri area, to Ngwa down to Obio/Akpor and Bonny, and even some parts of Northern Igbo (Anambra and Enugu) has Aro Settlements, however I have no record of any Aro settlements in Western Igbo (Anioma).
Through this settlements they were able to form alliances in some areas with the indigenous people to ensure free flow of slaves, that was the back bone of the confederacy therefore it is worth noting that the Owerri clans corroborated with and struck a deal with the Aro to traffic isoma(isuama) slaves through their territory, guaranteeing the Aro a free passage as long as no Owerri clan was attacked or disturbed, however this did not stop the Aro from establishing shrines all over Southern Igbo with which they controlled and shaped Southern Igbo society, in fact the Aro is part of the reason why the cult of Amadioha/Kamalu was widespread, also why the name of Amadi was widespread, as well as the concept of Diala who cannot be enslaved.
Some of the Aro settlements I have been able to recollect includes as follows,
Aro Ajatakiri: In Ikwuano, Umuahia, Abia State
Aro Achara: In Ama-asa, Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
Aro Umu Nkpe: In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
Aro Nbawsi: In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
Aro Omoba: In Isiala Ngwa, Abia State.
Aro Okporoenyi: In Ikwuano area of Abia State.
Aro Iyama: In Ikwuano, area of Abia State.
Aro Amuru: In Ikwuano, area of Abia State.
Aro Ndizuogu: Ideato area of Imo State (The biggest of all the settlements).
Aro Ndiowu Anambra State
Aro Ndi Ikerionwu: In Anambra State.
Aro Ajalli: In Anambra State.
Aro Nzerem: In Ebonyi State.
Aro Atta Ikeduru Owerri area Imo State
Aro Amokwe: In Udi area of Enugu State.
Aro Isuochi: In Abia State.
Aro Isiokpo/Igwurita Ikwerre area in Rivers State.
Aro Abagana: In Anambra State.
Aro Oru: In Imo State.
Aro Nempi: In Imo State
Aro Ngwa: In Abia State.
Aro Ezeagu: In Enugu State.
Aro Achi: In Enugu State.
Aro Oboro Ite
Aro Kalabari: In Rivers State.
Aro Opobo: In Rivers State.
Aro Uturu: In Abia State
Aro Anwu Anwu: Eziukwu Durunnihe in Umudurunna ABBA Nwangele LGA Imo State
Aro Okija (Ndi Ezennia Awa Okoro Orji): Anambra State
Aro Egbuoma in [oguta] area of Imo
Umuaro- In Obingwa, Abia state.
Add any you know of which is not included here.