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Aro people like most Igbo people have much regards (respect) for the wild cat (animal) called LION. They cherish this animal so much that attention should be given to it in the composition of the life of Aro-man.
In truth, the wild cat has so much influence in the life and lifestyle of the Aro / Igbo’s that her general culture, behaviour, language, names, title and mode of dressing are often associated with the LION. In Aro kingdoms, it is prestigious and elevating to associate any person with the lion. For purposes of clarity. We shall hereby try to distinguish between the LION and the TIGER.
LION (Felies Leo:) is the large carnivorous (animal) chiefly nocturnal cat of the open rocky area of Africa and formerly of Southern Asia that has a tawny body with tufted tail and shaggy black and white spotted colour. Sometimes the body of very old ones may appear dark brown with tougher skin. The Aros and the generality of Igbo’s call the LION “AGU”.
TIGER (Felies Tigris) Asiatic Carnivorous mammal of the cat family having tawny coat transversely striped with black. The Aros and most Igbos people call are ODUM or ODUM NA EGBU AGU’. This means the Tiger that kills the Lion.
The Aro/Igbos often names their male children after the Lion e.g.
1. “Agu” (Lion)
2. “Agu Ocha” (White lion)
3. “ Agu Uwa” (Earthly Lion)
4. “Agu Nwa” (Active child)
5. “Agu Na Echemba” (the lion that guards the community.)
6. “Ogbu Agu” (lion killer)
7. “Eze Agu” (lion-like king)
8. “Odu Agu” (lions Tail)
9. “Omeka Ahu” (Lion Actor)
10. “Onyima” (Lion Teeth) etc.
Above are some of the names both the Aros and all Igbo’s share that associate the bearers with the lion. Some of these names are the regular name for some people particularly the males while others are used as title names. In whichever way, they are used. They are common names for Igbo’s.
Many a time, mature and respected Aros/ Igbo’s are seen wearing clothes with the entire lion or just lion-head designed on them. Many traditional Igbo dressed for men. Some way or the other are designed after the wild cat-LION.
Many Traditional Rulers- ‘Ndi-Eze’ and many title chiefs (Ndi-Eze) would usually place the real, natural LION-SKIN on their thrones before sitting on them publicly. A great many Igbo and Aro traditional rulers would carve the lion on the arm-rests of their thrones.
WHY THE AROS/ IGBO MYTHIFY AND MYSTIFY THE LION:
From the passage just concluded. It is abundantly clear that both the Aros and the entire Igbo people tend to have a lot of much regard or respect or fear or reverence for lion.
(i) If it is LIONS STRENGTH that makes the Aros hold the lion so high. Why don’t they do more to the Tiger? Since the Tiger kills the lion-“Odum Na Egbu Agu” meaning the Tiger that kills the lion says the Aro/Igbo man.
(ii) If this over influence is based on the LIONS beauty. Why do the Aros not have such for the Zebra (Genus Equus) which the God of creation has so artistically designed that it can hardly be equalled in beauty and elegance by any animal?
(iii) Is it the LION’S agility? Why not the Monkey (Lemurs and Tarsiers) since the monkey is much agiler than the lion.
(iv) May be the Aros respect the lion for its craftiness? They should then have more respect for wolf (genus Canis) or for the coyote (Canis latrans) because these animals are craftier than the lion.
(v) Is it the ruggedness, the toughness of skin or the ugliness of the LIOS face that scares the Aro/Igbo’s into holding the lion so big? They should better hold the hippopotamus higher. For it is much more rugged, uglier and its skin rougher and tougher than that of the lion.
(vi) Finally, it may be the mysterious nature of the lion that charms the Aro/Igbo’s to it. If that is so, one would argue that the chameleon (Rhiptoglossa) which changes its natural colour instantly to any colour closet to it and sometimes changes its shape to shade itself from the view of its possible enemies is more mysterious than the wild cat called lion. We have gone a long way in this write-up to establish that ARODI is the sixth son of Jacob Israel. We also believe that we have convincingly, through our examination of culture, language, religion and other common features established that it was the descendant of the Hebrew son of Gad- Arodi that formed the Arodite clan of the Gadite tribe of Israel (Gen.46:16) (nos.26:15-18) and also formed the Arochukwu clan and other Aro settlements in the Igbo tribe of Biafra.
Our research, therefore, claims that the Aro/Igbo people’ regard for the lion is beyond the personality of the lion. We believe that the regard Ndi Igbo and Ndi-Aro have for the lion is more of an inherited influence or a spiritual insight built into them by their ancestral Hebrew origin in ancient Israel. Let us hereby examine the factors on which we based our belief. ‘Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were brave warriors ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountain’. It should be noted that the above warriors who defected to King David were not Gad himself but his descendants. The war generals who were eleven in number must have come from across the seven descendant of Gad ranging from Zephon. Gad’s first son to Eri the fifth son, to Arodi the sixth son and to Areli the seventh and the last son of Gad. ‘Ezer was the chief. Obudiah the second in command, Eliab the third, Mish Mannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, Attai the sixth Eliel the seventh, Jonathan the tenth, Macbannia the eleventh .these Gadites were army commanders: the least was a match for a hundred and the greatest for a thousand. It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks and they put to flight everyone living in the valley to the east and to the West. (1 chron. 12:9-5)
It can be seen from the above extract that these eleven Gadites generals were extraordinary warriors from among whom one man can engage a thousand other men in battle. No wonder their faces were said to be faces of lions. About Gad he said: Blessed is he who enlarges Gads domain. Gad lives there like a lion tearing at arm and head. He chose the best land for himself and the leader’s portion was kept for him. When the heads of the people assembled he carried out the lord’s righteous will and his judgment concerning-Israel. (Deuteronomy 33:20-21).
Again from the passage above this came when the prophet, Moshe Rabbenu was blessing the tribes of Israel before his death. He again equated Gad with the lion. Still associating Gad and his descendant with the valour of the lion. Thereby gradually infusing into them the belief that everything about them is lion-like.
If we take into account the fact that these Aro/Igbo’s of Biafra are real descendant of Gadites Israelites whose ancestral fathers had trained to behave like the lion and who had been indoctrinated to the belief that they were lion –like it is not surprising that they are easily overwhelmed by everything lion.
Finally, it is necessary to remark before concluding this page, that Israelites even during the New Testament era still hold the LION in very high esteem. Hence Christ Jesus was called LION OF JUDAH.” The Aro, Igbo and Hebrew (Jewish) people’s regard and respect for the lion are therefore not of their making. It was ancient spiritual and inbuilt in them by their ancestral fathers in Israel. They were from ancestry made to perceive the lion with almost unlimited superlatives. They, therefore, believed in and appreciated the lion.
Hausa kings would more often use the zebra skin where the Aro/Igbo’s (descendant of Israel) would use lion skin. We believe that the Aro/Igbo regards and respect for the lion is a part of their Hebrew inherited culture.
If you will it, it is not a fable,
If we fail to eliminate exile,
Exile will eliminate us.
Next year in Jerusalem.
ELder Elam Moshe.
For Herut Zionist Movement.