An ancient practice in Igboland that discourages social interaction and marriage with a group of persons called Osu Outcast, is set to be abolished in Anambra, as the State Government has adopted the December 28 date set by major traditional rulers in the South-east to abolish the controversial Osu caste system.
In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, The president of Celibacy International Initiative, Nollywood actor, Joseph Okechukwu, noted that the abolition would take place at the Nri Palace in Anambra State on Wednesday.
He said, “In the Igbo tradition, the Osu are said to be dedicated to deities (Alusi) while the Ohu are said to be slaves by birth.
“The Osu caste system has stigmatised sections of communities in the Southeast, depriving them of access to social interaction and marriages with belief that any ‘free born’ that marries an osu defiles the family.
“This obnoxious act, however leads to investigations by elders before any marriage is contracted between two families, especially when from different communities.”
The Anambra state Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism, Sally Mbanefo, reportedly wrote Celibacy International Initiative to intimate them of the state government’s approval.
The letter, according to the statement, read in part, “The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism has been inundated with your efforts in raising awareness on the traumatic stigma of Osu/Ohu/ Ume caste system.
“As a ministry, we also commend your selfless and bold commitment to the abolition of this demeaning caste system in the land.
“Consequently, we wish to express our unflinching support for abolishing the scourge of this unfortunate practice in Igbo land.
“We, therefore, have no reservation whatsoever in endorsing your project to abolish the Osu practice.”
According to the statement, a bishop, Obi Onubuogu of The Rock Cathedral, Enugu, has also backed the December 28 abolition date and is leading a cross-section of high-profile South-East religious leaders to Agukwu Nri for the formal abolition.
“We will ensure that the exercise is a huge success. We are all in agreement that this is long overdue. We can’t continue like this. One of the reasons God kept some of us alive is to see that things like these are abolished from our lands. And we will do this and save our generation and race from self-destruction and extinction,” the bishop said.
In the statement it was also noted that there would be far-reaching consequences for those wishing to continue the obnoxious practice after the symbolic exercise.