Cause of the war
Aro Confederacy, whose powers
extended across Nigeria, Equatorial
Guinea, and Cameroon, was
crumbling in the late 19th century due to the European
The Aro people
need to take action against the colonists who threatened their
culture and sovereignty.
Kingdom, it was
- "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).
The Aros knew that British penetration would destroy their
dominance. They also opposed their religion, Christianity
, which some of the Aros were
converting to. Aro rulers saw the new religion as a British method
of peacefully capturing Aro territories. Aro raids and invasions on
many communities were conducted in order to bully those who favored
the British. But the Aro invasion of Obegu around November 1901 signaled for the direct
invasion of Arochukwu.
400 people died and the government of Obegu
was destroyed. Obegu was a town sided with the British. After this
attack, the British would retaliate.
The Aro Expedition
Sir Ralph Moore and the Royal Niger
, had planned the attack on the Aros and Ibini-Ukpabi
since September 1899. The Aro
invasion of Obegu marked their signal for the Expedition which
began in 1901.
A military operation was launched against Aro and the shrine of the
Long Juju in November 1901. On November 28, Lt. Col. H. F. Montanaro led 87 officers, 1,550
soldiers and 2,100 carriers in four axes of advance from Oguta, Akwete, Unwuna and Itu on a
As expected, Aro and allied
forces resisted gallantly, although not as severe due to lack of
modern weapons. However, Arochukwu was captured on Christmas Day
and the Long Juju shrine was blown up. The Aro expedition was
carried out by the British to stop or subdue the Aro trading
oligarchy ending weeks later in January 1902. British forces
remained active in the field until May.
The result of the war
Some of the Aro leaders, were arrested, tried by tribunals, and
hanged. Eze Kanu Okoro
Arochukwu) went into hiding. The fame and importance of the Aros
faded. Although the defeat of the Aro helped the British in their
imperial agenda, serious opposition to British rule in Igboland,
however, did not end with the Aro expedition. In the years that
followed, the British had to fight repeated wars in various parts
of Igboland such as the Ekumeku War
War, Afikpo War, Ezza War, and etc.
- Aro raids on British allies (1890's-1901)
- Aro invasion on Obegu (1901)
- Aro expedition (1901-1902)