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This study on Arochukwu women and societal change argues that Aro Women played a pivotal role in the infrastructural, economic, social and political transformation of Arochukwu, a society once dominated by men before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. The impact of the Nigerian Civil War in Arochukwu was severe. The town witnessed massive infrastructural decay and loss of human population mostly of the male population. This situation was also prevalent in other parts of Igboland. The study using a qualitative method, based on oral tradition, written sources and other available evidence, argues that even though Aro society is purely a patrilineal society, the impact of the Nigerian Civil War on Arochukwu brought a change in its societal and organizational structure to the degree that Aro women were repositioned from the subservient position they had occupied to a more complementary position with men. Suffice it to say that this resulted into a series of rapid transformation and a total restructuring of a society that was once bedeviled with loss of human population and infrastructural decay. Aro women did not only transform Arochukwu, they also controlled and dominated the economy - agriculture, commerce, traditional industries, health and education sectors, as well as setting the ethical and moral standard of the society. All these activities helped in the strengthening of inter group relations between the Aro and her Igbo and non-Igbo neigbours after the war.

This work also explored how Aro women wielded political power in Arochukwu, the kind of structures and agencies that enabled them accomplish all they did especially under Nzuko Inyom Aro. The study examined the various resistance and protests made by women in reaction to certain policies of the local and state governments. Profiles of some Aro women who played leading roles were reviewed as a result of the relevant contributions they made in the development of Aro society. The importance of this study lies in the fact that no academic study of Aro women had been undertaken.



Background of the Study
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Theoretical Framework
Literature Review
Scope of the Study
Significance of the Study
Method, Sources and Organisation of the Study

Arochukwu before the Nigerian Civil War
Arochukwu Women before 1970
Presbyterian Women Training College Arochukwu
The Nigerian Civil War in Arochukwu

Arochukwu Women and Community Development
Women’s Cooperative Society
Women’s Protest over Abia State College of Education Technical
Profiles of Some Arochukwu Women

Nzuko Arochukwu Women’s Wing
Women’s Annual Development Rally




Background of the Study
Women’s history deals with the roles women have played in their societies and the effects which historical events have had on women. It focuses on women both as a group and as individuals, and understudies their economic, political, religious and social activities.1 Women are important to every society; they play vital roles in the society and are often regarded as the bedrock of the society.2 Therefore, their contributions to the society cannot be neglected or merely mentioned, but deserve adequate historical attention. Incidentally, in Africa, women have played significant roles in nation building, but this has not reflected in the number of studies on women.3 This also applies to Arochukwu women. Sometime in the past, according to Dike and Ekejiuba, Arochukwu had a female King, NneMgbokwoUdoOmiri,4 who ruled Arochukwu for a long time, presumably long before the British invasion of Arochukwu in 1902. Her role as EzeAro is yet to receive any academic attention. This is one evidence of the under-representation of women in history.

This study will focus on Arochukwu women of the Cross River Igbo area of Southeastern Nigeria. This distinct linguistic group is a part of the Igbo people who occupy the Eastern part of Nigeria, once known as Biafra. For close to a century, the literature on Arochukwu has grown rapidly, particularly her involvement in the slave trade, her use of the oracular services of the famous IbiniUkpabi (or the long juju according to European records), the Aro expedition of 1901, the establishment of Aro trading posts and settlements and so on. However, not much is written about the activities of women in this area.5

Arochukwu is situated in Abia State. It is a community of more than 30,000 inhabitants,6and covers 250 square miles.7 It is positioned on the east bank of the Cross River.8 It lies 74 kilometers through Bende and 102 kilometers through Uzuakoli, southeast of Umuahia, theAbia state capital.9 Arochukwu is bounded on the north by Ihechiowa and northeast by Ututu in Abia State, and on the east and south by the Ito of Cross River State, on the south and south-west by the Ikpanja, Iwerre and Makor of AkwaIbom State.10The soil is light and sandy and the whole area is well watered. There are outcrops of sand stones and laterite in the area, but these are of no commercial value. The southern part of the area is low-lying and swampy during the rainy season.11 The Aro people are generally referred to as the Cross River Igbo. This is because the community is located in a system of waterways and is enclosed by the Cross River and its tributaries.12 Arochukwu is made up of 19 villages namely Amannagwu, Agbagwu, Amuvi, Amasu, Atani, Amukwa, Asaga, Amankwu, Amangwu, Amoba, Ibom, Isimkpu, Oror, Obinkita, Ujari, Ugwuakuma, Utughugwu, Ugwuavo, and Ugbo. Each village chief, “EzeOgo”, is responsible for administering the village and reports to the EzeAro of Arochukwu.13Apart from the Aro living in the homeland, Arochukwu (Aro-ulo), there are a large number of Aro communities in the diaspora, (Aro-uzo). Dike and Ekejiuba noted that there are over one hundred and fifty colonies of varying demographic and political strength which the Aro founded between 1680 and 1890, and most of these colonies exist till date.14Aro activities and penetration in other parts of Igboland and beyond would have been difficult without the establishment of these settlements.15 Among Aro communities in the diaspora are Ndi-Ikelionwu, Ajali, Ndiowu, Ndiokpalaeze, Ndiufelle and Ndiukwuenuin the present Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State. AroNdi-Izuogu in Imo state is the largest concentration of Aro-uzo, with five autonomous communities.16 Others in Imo state are NdiNwafor, NdiOkoroji, AroUmulolo and AroIkpaautonomous community. There are also Aro communities in Owerri, Uratta, Oguta, Oru and Ohaji- Egbema Local Government Area of Imo state as well in Bende and Isiala-Ngwa North and South and as well as ObiomaNgwa Local Government Areas of Abia State.17 In Enugu and Ebonyi States, there are pockets of Aro communities in Oji River, Awgu, Ezeagu, Udi, Izii, Ezaa, Afikpo and Ohaozara Local Government Areas. In Rivers state, before the Nigerian Civil War, Aro communities were scattered in Ikwere land. Since after the war, the......

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