Arochukwu cave is simply a long dark tunnel. It is located in Arochukwu local government in Abia State. Another name for the cave is Long Juju cave. With several historical tales associated with the cave, the slave trade is one of them. Evidently, the cave once served as a court of arbitration. Just before the slave trade era, the people settled local and tribal disputes there. Amongst other things, the cave served as a slave trade route. Here, they sell and transport slaves out of the country. As they make their journey through the Cross River to the Ocean port in Port Harcourt.
Internationally, Arochukwu cave is well recognised. This is particularly from a historical perspective. And also because of its significant role during the slave trade era. Moreover, the state government has applied for its recognition as a World Heritage Site. A petition to UNESCO is certainly the way to make that happen.
Description of Arochukwu Cave
This ancient cave temple has a six-foot gully that leads to it. Although covered in the thickest green, it still serves as a path. Here, you have the main oracular shrine of Ibn Ukpabi. While the statute of Kamalu the “warrior god” also stands just outside as if on guard. Another feature is an alter which also serves as the kitchen area. There is also a waterfall present. The people in the area believe the sound from the waterfall is the prophetic voice of the Ibn Ukpabi. Amongst others includes the throne of judgement. It can be referred to as the dark presence or the the “Holy of Holies”. Interestingly, those who are found guilty walk into dark tunnels. Meanwhile, those innocent return to their homes.
In addition to the features is a hill of rags. This is the place where the condemned disappear into a tunnel. However, they have to take their clothes off and before they disappear. Similarly, there is also the tunnel of disappearance. Another dark tunnel where victims vanish. In the same location, is a red river close-by. Tales say the Aro colours the river red as the victims disappear. Apparently, this gives people the impression that the victim has died. The relatives of the deceased however know this through the red water flowing down the stream. Lastly, there is the Iyi-Eke. This serves as a route for transporting the enslaved. They walk to “Onu Asu Bekee” in blindfolds. And from there, a boat takes them to Calabar. Afterwards, they move on to Ala Bekee.
This is the third-largest city in Abia State. It is just behind Aba and Umuahia. Sometimes its people call it Arochuku or Aro-Okigbo. The city is on the Southeastern part of Nigeria. And it is the homeland to the Igbo sub-group. That is the Aro people. Arochuchukwu is about 2hrs and 20 minutes from Aba. Meanwhile, Amakama to Aba is roughly 2 hours or less.
Arochukwu has a total of 19 villages. And an overall leader whom they call “Eze Aro”. Arochukwu is a principal historic town in Igbo land. There are several historic tourist sites in the city. As a result, the city was once targeted by the British Colonial Government. Firstly, there is the mystic Chukwu Abiama shrine. Another is the slave route amongst the relics of the trade era. It also has a good location. That is in the food belt of Abia state. This is where they produce the most staple foods.
There are a few languages the people of Arochukwu speak. They are;
As earlier mentioned, the people of Aro are an Igbo sub-group. They are also referred to as the Aros. And they originated from the Arochukwu kingdom. This, however, is still a part of the present-day Abia state. The Aros is practically almost everywhere. They are found in over 250 settlements in the Southeastern part of Nigeria.
The Aros is also seen as Eastern or Cross River Igbos. This is due to its location, culture, and dialect. Not to mention their mixed origin and diversity. On the other hand, Chukwu Abiama is a big factor in the establishment of their Aro Confederacy. This gave them regional power in the Niger Delta. The southeastern part of Nigeria is not left out. Moreover, this happened during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The people of Aro have a rich tradition. Some of which are;
- There is a sacred Ekpe society. It originates from the Eastern Cross River. With a highly judicial and religious system, they contributed largely to the Aro society. Also, Nsibidi, its writing system is based on Ekpe society. Another writing system is Uli.
- The Chukwu Abiama temple is another and an Aro priest mediates. Just before its destruction by the British, it made a lot of impact on society.
- An important tradition is also the Ekeleke masquerade activity. It started from the Niger Delta and moved to Oguta community.
- The Ikperikpe warrior dance is prevalent among warriors back in the day. It is still very much in use today.
- Arochukwu cave and its use as a shrine is also part.
This used to be an oracle of the Aro confederacy. In Ibibio, it means “Drum of the creator”. Meanwhile, the British knew it as ‘the Long Juju’. Ibini Ukpabi was of great importance in the Niger Delta. And it served as an arbitrary throughout the society. It settled cases as witchcraft, murder, and family feud. By tradition, the Oracle destroyed anyone that lost a case. Moreover, the priest devised an alternative. That is they rather sold the losing parties to slavery. According to stories, the priests began to tamper with the verdict. This is because they preferred to sell the victims as slaves and profit from them. Subsequently, lots of people visited Ibini Ukpabi and not many returned. People, however, assumed the Oracle devoured them.