TRADITION: Can the Osu Caste system ever be abolished?


In a 2005 interview with Daily Sun, Archbishop Ekewuba had said  that the Presidency  will continue to elude  Igbos until we  stop our idol worship and make efforts to drop the Osu caste system.  Many argue that the Osu practice is a discriminatory and outdated tradition .It is also regarded as an anti-social practice, because it hinders people’s free social interaction. Still it persists.  We do not know what link the Osu caste system has with  the ballot box and who Nigerians decide to voted in as President, but going by this clarion call by the clergy man, the million dollar question now is:  How prepared are we to drop the Osu Caste system? Can it ever be abolished in Igbo land ? N’uwa nke Jesus?

Quoting an article by Leo Igwe:


A human rights group outlined the atrocities meted out against the Osu in Igboland. They include: ‘parents administering poison to their children, disinheritance, ostracism, organized attack, heaping harvest offering separately in churches, denial membership in social clubs, violent disruption of marriage ceremonies, denial of chieftaincy titles, deprivation of property and expulsion of wives etc.”

The Osu caste discrimination is very pronounced in the area of marriage. An Osu cannot marry a freeborn. The belief is that any freeborn that marries an Osu defiles the family. So freeborn families are always up in arms against any of their members who wants to marry an Osu. They go to any length to scuttle the plan. Because of the Osu factor, marriages in Igboland are preceded by investigations-elders on both sides travel to native villages to find out the social status of the other party. And if it is found that one of them is an Osu, the plan would be automatically abandoned.

Many marriage plans have been aborted, and in fact some married couples have been forced to divorce because of the Osu factor. Chinua Achebe also noted this in his book. When Okonkwo learns that his son wants to marry Clara, an Osu. Okonkwo says: “ Osu is like a leprosy in the minds of my people. I beg of you my son not to bring the mark of shame and leprosy into your family. If you do, your children and your children’s children will curse you and your memory… You will bring sorrow on your head and on the heads of your children.”

The other day in February, we joined the whole world in celebrating Valentine’s day. How many of those lovers will scale through the “Traditional background check” and end up in marriage?   When we go to bid for contract, do we check to  know if the Company awarding the contract is owned by an Osu or Nwadiala ? When we go to receive Holy communion, do we ask if the Revered Father blessing it is an Osu or Nwadiala?

How long are we going to be guided by the primitive laws of our fore-fathers?

To be continued..






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