About 119 villages in the nine autonomous communities in Nsukka town of Enugu State, on Wednesday, formalized the eradication of the Osu Caste system in their communities.
The decision came as a collaborative effort of the monarchs, town unions, traditional institutions in the communities, and the Initiative for the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatization in our Society, IFETACSIOS.
Highlight of the event was an interdenominational prayer session and ‘Isu Oho’ by the chief priests and ‘Akpuraruas’ from the three quarters which make up Nsukka town.
The Catholic Bishop of the Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Ugwuorie who spoke during the interdenominational prayer session at the St. John’s Primary School, condemned the reprehensive traditional practice.
According to the clergyman, there was no need for discriminatory practices amongst people created by God.
He said, “This is the first of its kind in Nsukka cultural zone. There cannot be development amidst strife and discrimination. The Osu caste system needs to be eradicated to enable all members of the society to contribute their quota in moving the communities forward because we cannot make progress when we discriminate against ourselves.”
The Bishop called on other communities within the Nsukka cultural zone to emulate Nsukka town by initiating steps towards ending harmful cultural practices that are anti-people.
Speaking to journalists during the event, the President-General of Nsukka Town Union, Chief Joseph Onyeke, praised the nine autonomous communities in Nsukka town for eradicating the Osu caste system.
He said, “By history, we cannot forget the efforts of our noble men and women like William Wilberforce, Mary Slessor who, about 200 years ago, volunteered their lives to make sure slave trade was abolished. Even though they achieved great height in securing legal freedom for the enslaved, some deprivations remained in practice till this day.
“In practice, discriminations have continued even in this part of the continent. They include denials of intermarriage, title-taking_Oha and Umuada, placement of Oho and Oduatu together and ascending to the height of ‘Onyeishi Aruah among others. The consequences of the above were restiveness and underdevelopment in all sectors of life.
“In Nsukka town, the crises of 1946-1955 regarding the discrimination practices worsened the matter, and ever since then, the problems were managed and never solved.”
On his part, the traditional ruler of Ihe Nsukka Autonomous Community, HRH, Igwe George Asadu, noted that the Osu was a creation of humans and not God.
“The segregation lives here on earth and not in heaven. Even the Bible upholds all humans as equal before God,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Visioner and Coordinator of IFETACSIOS, Nwada Stella Ogechukwu, said she was glad with the abolishment of the Osu practice.
She said, “I take full cognizance of other communities that have abolished the caste system, but I call the Nsukka people the pacesetters because you came together in strength, might, and love to jettison the evil practice.
“I know the kind of efforts that go into achieving such a milestone. Your actions towards achieving this feat are commendable and worthy of emulation.”