Anglo-Aro War
The Anglo-Aro War was a conflict between the Aro Confederacy
Aro Confederacy
The Aro Confederacy was a political union orchestrated by the Igbo subgroup, the Aro people, centered in Arochukwu in present day Southeastern Nigeria. Their influence and presence was across Eastern Nigeria into parts of the Niger Delta and Southern Igala during the 18th and 19th centuries...

 in present day Eastern Nigeria, and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The war began after increasing tension between Aro
Aro may refer to:* Aro people, an Igbo subgroup in West Africa* Aro Confederacy, a precolonial Igbo trading oligarchy in West Africa* Årø , a small island in the Lillebælt in Denmark* Årø, Norway, a neighborhood of Molde...

 leaders and British colonialists after years of failed negotiations.

Cause of the war

The Aro Confederacy, whose powers extended across Eastern Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and beyond was challenged in the last decades of the 19th century by increasing British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 penetration of the hinterland. The Aro people
Aro people
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...

 and their allies resisted the penetration which threatened their culture, influence, and sovereignty.

Reasons advanced by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

"To abolish slave trade which is secretly carried on throughout the entire territories belonging to, and dominated by the Aros. To abolish the fetish of the Aros known as Longjuju, which they by superstition and fraud causes many evils among the tribes generally, and to all the outlying tribes of the entire protectorate, who continually appeal to it. Finally, to establish throughout the territories a labour market to take the place of slavery." (quote by Sir Ralph Moore, the high Commissioner of Nigerian Coast Protectorate).

Aro Opposition

The Aros knew that British penetration would destroy their economic dominance of the hinterland. They also opposed their religion, Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, which threatened their religious influence through their oracle Ibini Ukpabi
Ibini Ukpabi
The Ibini Ukpabi was an oracle of the Aro Confederacy of what is now south eastern Nigeria. It was known among the British as the Long Ju-ju. Ibini Ukpabi was used to settle cases, particularly does of murder, witchcraft, poisoning and family disputes...

. The Aro led raids and invasions on communities were conducted in order to undermine British penetration since the 1890s. While the British prepared for the invasion of Arochukwu
Arochukwu, sometimes referred to as Arochuku, or Aro-Okigbo, is the third largest city in Abia State in southeastern Nigeria and homeland of the Igbo subgroup, Aro people....

 in November 1901, the Aro launched their last major offensive before the Aro Expedition by British forces. Aro forces led by Okoro Toti sacked Obegu (a British ally) which resulted in 400 people dying. This attack quickened British preparation for their offensive.

Aro Expedition

Sir Ralph Moore and the Royal Niger Company
Royal Niger Company
The Royal Niger Company was a mercantile company chartered by the British government in the nineteenth century. It formed the basis of the modern state of Nigeria....

, had planned the attack on the Aros and the Ibini Ukpabi oracle since September 1899 but due to lack of necessary manpower, was delayed until November 1901. On November 28, Lt. Col. A. F. Montanaro led 87 officers, 1,550 soldiers and 2,100 carriers in four axes of advance to Arochukwu from Oguta
Oguta is a city on the east bank of Oguta Lake in southeast Nigeria. Oguta was one of the first territories used by the British to advance into the Igbo hinterland...

, Akwete, Unwuna and Itu
Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

 on a counter-insurgency campaign. As expected, Aro forces resisted all axes strongly, although they lacked modern weapons. However, Arochukwu was captured on December 28 after four days of fierce battles in and around the city. As a result the Ibini Ukpabi shrine was allegedly blown up. Battles between British and Aro forces continued until spring 1902 when Aro forces were defeated in the last major battle at Bende
The Bende are an ethnolinguistic group based in the Mpanda District of Rukwa Region in western Tanzania. In 1999 the Bende population was estimated to number 27,000.-Further reading:...

. The Aro Expedition ended three weeks later.

The result of the war

Some of the Aro leaders like Okoro Toti, were arrested, tried by tribunals, and hanged. The Aro Confederacy was destroyed and Eze Kanu Okoro (king of Arochukwu), went into hiding but was later arrested. Although Aro dominance crumbled in March 1902, many Aros took part in later resistances against the British in the region such as in Afikpo
Afikpo is the second largest city in Ebonyi State of Nigeria. Until recently it was the home Local Government Area of the late Eze Akanu Ibiam, who hailed from the village of Unwana. Dr...

 (1902–1903), Ezza
Ezaa/Ezza is a northeastern Igbo sub-group, in southeastern Nigeria....

 (1905), and other areas where the Aro had a particularly significant presence. The defeat of the Aro did help the British in their imperial agenda of conquest of the interior but serious opposition to British penetration in Igboland, however, clearly did not end with the Anglo-Aro War. In the years that followed, the British had to deal with many other conflicts and wars in various parts of Igboland such as the Nri Conflict (1905–1911), Ekumeku War
Ekumeku War
The Ekumeku Movement consisted of a series of uprisings against the rising power of the Royal Niger Company of the British Empire in the Aniocha-Igbo communities of the Lower Niger River. The British penetration of Nigeria met with various forms of resistance throughout the country...

 (1883–1914), Igbo Women's War (1929) and etc.

Major battles

  • Battles in the Oguta/Owerri
    Owerri is the capital of Imo State in Nigeria, set in the heart of the Igboland. Owerri consists of three Local Govern Areas including Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West, it has an estimated population of about 400,000 as of 2006...

    area (November 1901)
  • Battles of Arochukwu (December 1901)
  • Battle of Edimma (January 1902)
  • Battle of Bende (March 1902)

External links

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