By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
Traditional Rulers in Anambra State have unanimously thrown their weight in support of the ongoing moves to eradicate the ‘Osu’ caste system in the state.
The traditional rulers led by their chairman, traditional ruler of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Nnaemeka made the declaration at a consultative meeting with the Initiative for the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatization in our Society (IFETACSIOS), a non-governmental organisation held in Awka.
Earlier in her speech, the president of IFEATACSCIOS, Maduagwu asked for the cooperation of traditional rulers in the state to fight the “Osu, ohu, umea and diala caste systems in the state saying that abolishing it would help restore dignity of human being, promote peaceful relationship and reduce communal conflicts among others.
Her words, “Osu caste system have predated centuries of the existence of Igbo people in the south eastern part of Nigeria have wrecked havoc on the sociocultural economic and political lives of the area.
“It is sad that in Igbo land, a young man and woman may be courting but the moment either of them discovers that the other is an Osu, the relationship will end.
“The dream of IFETACSIOS is to bring all the south eastern states of Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia to sign an accord on the abolition of Osu, ohu, ume diala caste systems one day.”
Maduagwu while saying that her NGO have extended the advocacy on the abolition of the practice to Enugu and Imo States said that they will also visit Abia and Ebonyi States before the end of the year.
She applauded the traditional rulers for responding to the meeting which would ultimately lead to the eradication of the osu/diala harmful cultural practices in Igbo land.
In his response, His Royal Majesty Michael Ngene, the traditional ruler of Nibo community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State said it was absolutely necessary to wipe out the osu/diala caste system completely in Igbo land to ensure robust relationships.
He harped on the need for people from all parts of Igbo land to come together and agree that the obnoxious cultural practices which the forefathers introduced no longer have effect on anybody.
On his part, the traditional ruler of Odoekpe, Ogbaru local government area of the state, HRH Eze Emmanuel Onyia, observed that there was no community in Igbo land that did not practice the osu/diala harmful traditional practice.
He noted that the “osu/diala caste system dichotomy was still very much with Ndigbo, pointing out that modernization has only downplayed the impact.
The royal father said that his Odokpe community has ohu (slaves) caste, hinted that the community are seriously working to abolish the tradition.
He said, “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.”
The event was attended by traditional rulers from various communities in the state.