The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, has said the Osu Caste System no place in the 21st century, calling for the abolition of the “unlawful and obnoxious” practice in Igboland.
Achebe made the call while speaking at a workshop on Thursday in Awka, Anambra State, organised by the Initiative for the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatisation in Our Society, (IFETACSIOS) a non-governmental fighting for the eradication of the Osu practice.
The Osu caste system is a belief in Igbo land which discourages social interaction and marriages with a group of persons regarded as (“Osus) slaves. The stigma affects even the unborn children of those labelled as Osus.
However, the Obi of Onitsha said the practice is outdated, declaring a concerted war against it and urged traditional rulers in Igboland to stamp out the practice in their domains.
“There is the need for people from all parts of Igbo land to come together and agree that this obnoxious cultural practice, which our fore fathers introduced, no longer have effect on us and our children.
“We are happy with the coming of IFETACSIOS group on this project and we are going to collaborate with them to ensure we end this bad culture that has held our people backward for many years now,” he said.
The President of IFETACSIOS, Oge Maduagwu, had soughtsought the help of the traditional rulers in the struggle to abolish of the Osu caste system.
According to her, it would restore the dignity of human beings, promote peaceful relationship and reduce communal conflicts.
The Osu caste system had wreaked havoc on the socio-cultural, economic and political lives of the Igbo, she added.
Maduagwu said, “In Igbo land, it is very sad to note that a young man and young lady might be courting, but the moment either of the two discovers that the other is an osu, he or she will opt out of the relationship.”