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South East monarchs set to end osu, other caste systems

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Map of South East (Igboland), Nigeria. Photo/ Macmillian

The osu and other untouchable caste systems in Igboland will be history soon, as prominent traditional rulers in the south east have set December 28, 2018 to abolish them.

Ohu (slave) and ume are the other two untouchables targeted for abolition at the Nri Palace in Anambra State in December.

The dehumanising caste systems have taken roots in different parts of the region.

Regent of Nri Kingdom, Prince Ikenna Onyesoh, stated that there would be far-reaching consequences for those wishing to continue the obnoxious practice after the symbolic exercise.

“Come December 28, 2018, more stringent spiritual implications will be pronounced from Ikpo Eze-Nri against such devaluation of mankind, after an extensive spiritual abrogation exercise,” he said.

According to him, it would be “spiritually suicidal for anyone to continue to hold unto these beliefs and practices after that pronouncement on December 28, as the oldest ofo (sceptre) in Igboland shall be deployed for such pronouncements.”

Eri traditional rulers also stated that they were set for the abolition and reparation for the ancient practice.

The osu caste system has stigmatised sections of communities in the south east, depriving them access to social, political and economic privileges, as it is believed that any ‘freeborn’ (nwa di ala) that marries an osu defiles the lineage.

Elders carry out investigations before any marriage is contracted, because of this obnoxious act.

A freeborn becomes osu by dedicating himself to a deity for protection or other personal benefits. The deity is believed to guide and protect the osu till death.

But recently, Christianity and civilisation tend to relegate the practice, as young educated men seldom disregard the views of elders in such matters.

According to the chairman of Eri Dynasty Traditional Rulers Forum, His Imperial Majesty, Eze Nkeli Nzekwe Kelly, the Great King Kelly and Okalakwu Igbariam Ancient Kingdom, the whole world needs to witness what is about to happen in our land on December 28, 2018.

“The last time in history anything close happened was 200 years ago. Mark my word, after the abolition and atonement, anybody who continues to uphold these practices will have themselves to blame. It is time to end these once and for all and unite our people for the new era. It is time for our estranged brothers and sisters who were sold into slavery to return home. We are more than ready to atone for the sins of our forefathers and reunite with our kith and kin in America, Europe, the Islands and beyond,” he said.

However, in an address at the meeting of the forum on October 26, 2018, Prince Ifeanyi Onyesoh, the Akaekpuchionwa na Nri, said: “After the abolition exercise, there will be a robust atonement ceremony for the sins of Transatlantic Slavery, which resulted in the heartless and forceful seizure and selling of our kith and kin abroad to live in perpetual slavery.”

Meanwhile, convener and president of Celibacy International Initiative, Joseph Okechukwu, hailed the ancient kingdoms and their monarchs for the bravery and timely intervention in abolishing the obnoxious system.

The activist and Nollywood actor added: “This singular act will place their names in the history books, as abolition and atonement are our shortest cuts to peace, unity and progress.”


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