By Vincent Ujumadu
MOST Igbo communities would, without hesitation, say that the obnoxious Osu Caste system had been abolished in their areas, but they still secretly refuse to allow the so –called osu to marry the free born. The defunct Eastern Nigerian government officially abashed osu caste system in 1956 by a law made by the parliament.. It is common knowledge that renown Christians still believe in the existence of Osu.
Worried by the situation, some clergy men in the Anglican Church embarked on a campaign to finally abolish the system in Igbo land. Those who led the campaign are Bishop Raphael Okafor, former Bishop of Ihiala Diocese, Bishop Anthony Nkwoka, former Bishop of Niger West and Bishop Samuel Chukwuka, former Bishop of Isiukwuto/Umuneochi.
Bishop Chukwuka said: “God will judge and punish the hypocrites concerning this matter. The Bible makes it clear that God will judge and punish those who violate his laws and regulations. For a Christian to assign another Christian to an idol as Osu is hypocrisy of the first order.
“Jesus had occasion to pronounce eight powerful woes on the scribes and Pharisees,who were the religious leaders during his earthly ministry because of hypocrisy “”He ( Jesus) concluded by saying that as serpents and generation of vipers, they could not escape the damnation of hell.
“Is it not absurd, barbaric, retrogressive, hypocritical, shameful, unbelievable and unacceptable that after 160 years of Christianity in Igboland and after over 60 years our parents and grandparents abolished the Osu caste, it still continues amongst us?”
Bishop Nkwoka, on his part described the Osu caste system as an ancient practice in Igbo land that discriminated against a group of persons allegedly dedicated to deities and the stigma was naturally transferred to generations yet unborn.
He said it was to abolish it that informed their decision to form a body known as ‘Total Liberation Crusaders’, whose membership includes notable legal practitioners, High Court Judges and other professionals and who share the same concern that the Osu caste system was still in vogue and denying people their fundamental human rights in many parts of Igbo land.
He said: “We are worried that generations who know nothing about these cultural and idolatrous practices are today suffering from the stigma, whether their forefathers willingly or unwillingly became Osu. It is wicked and very unfortunate.
“Moreover, the Osu caste system is antiquated and had been outlawed since 1956. In some Igbo communities, these people are not even allowed to participate in government election, much less town union elections. In other places, they don’t intermarry with those who are not.
“We make bold to say with deep disappointment that this practice is a challenge to our enlightened society, the educated, the traveled, the church as a whole, our leaders in governments, our Chiefs, Obis, legal luminaries, senators and House of Representatives members.
“The white man fought against slavery and our forefathers were liberated. Early Christians fought against killing of twins and today, many twins who would have been killed are making their marks in the society. We should not turn back to enslave our brothers and sisters. We call upon the Church, human rights activists, the youths, the government and all that abhor victimization to rise in every quarter to act.
“We, Igbo have come of age and we cannot continue to listen to fables. We cannot continue to dance to the whims and caprices of the selfish and uninformed people. We are known to be pragmatic, contributors of development and advancement in diverse societies and enterprise. We cannot be associated with people who wash the outside of their cups whereas the inside is full of dirt. Osu caste system and the likes must go. There must be liberty, freedom and enfranchisement for all.”