Tuesday, January 18

Anambra community bids goodbye to Osu

By: Awesome Ekene

Owerre-Ezukala community in Orumba South Local of Government Area of Anambra State has formerly denounced and agreed to end the practice of Osu Caste system in their community.

Osu Caste System describes the discouragement of social interaction between freeborns of “Ụmụ nwa afọr” with a group of people called “Osu” or “Ụmụ alụsị”- a people who are dedicated to deities and are considered to be inferior beings.

An Osu cannot be given in marriage to a Freeborn and cannot take chieftaincy titles or leadership positions in the community or even to the extent of visiting and staying beyond sunset in the house of a freeborn.

Owerre-Ezukala is one of such communities where the practice is still in practice until this event.

The leaders of the community led by the traditional ruler, Igwe Thomas Ogbonnaya, the President-General, Mr Anayo Emejuo and the general assembly of the community gathered at the Ishishi Okpoghota, on Thursday.

Ishishi Okpoghota is the highest decision making square and the centre where the nine stones that represent the nine villages in the community were placed.

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The people of the community removed their shoes to proclaim the new dispensation of love and social interaction, as well as embraced one another to mark the abolishment of the Osu Caste system.

Speaking during the event, the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia, Most Rev. Peter Okpalaeke who was represented by Rev. Fr. Law Nwankwo, said there was no need for discriminatory practices among people created by God.

“Though the progenitors of Igbo culture might not have established the Osu Caste System with a bad intention, but the system has rather restricted people’s will to pursue their dreams and freely interact with their society.

“Like the killing of twins was once abolished, it is high time and necessary that the Osu Caste System is also abolished,” he said.

The President-General of the community, Emejuo, said the practice was dehumanising as it instituted unnecessary segregation, stigmatisation, discrimination, denial of rights and discord among people related by blood.

“Today, marks that all important milestone in the history of Owerre- Ezukala, haven agreed to do away with one of the most popular discriminatory practices in Igbo culture and tradition.

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“This action gives full rights of participation to every social activity in the community including the right to inter marry between the freeborn and other hitherto considered as ‘Osu’, he Emejuo said.

In his remarks, traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Ogbonnaya said abolishing the Osu caste system would enable all members of the community to contribute their quota to the progress of the community.

According to him, There cannot be development amidst strife and discrimination.

“With this abolishment, no one will now be discriminated because of circumstances of birth and it will open up opportunities for every member of the community to become part of the developmental process.

“Because we cannot make progress when we discriminate against ourselves,” he said.

The event was witnessed by the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu represented by the Director of Monitoring Department, Mr Okey Agu and other civil society organisations.

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