The Anambra Traditional Rulers Council, Chaired by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, has pledged their support to efforts at eradicating the “Osu” caste system in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the traditional rulers 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 in Awka on Wednesday.
Speaking at the meeting, Igwe Achebe lauded the group, led by Ms Oge Maduagwu, for their commitment in promoting social harmony among Igbo communities.
Achebe, however, urged traditional rulers in the state to open their doors for further engagement with IFETACSIOS team on the issue when they visit them.
Earlier in her presentation to the traditional rulers, Maduagwu, who is the President of the IFETACSIOUS group, sought the help of the traditional rulers in advancing the cause for the abolition of the `Osu’ caste system in the state.
Maduagwu said that abolishing the `osu, ohu, ume, and diala’ caste system would restore the dignity of human being, promote peaceful relationship, and reduce communal conflicts among others.
She noted that the osu caste system which predated centuries of the existence of Igbo people in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria had wreaked havoc on the socio-cultural, economic and political lives of the area.
“In Igbo land, it is very sad to note that a young man and a young lady may be courting but the moment either of the two discovers that the other is an osu then they will opt out of the relationship,” she said.
Maduagwu who told the royal fathers that her group had extended the advocacy on the abolition of the harmful practice to Imo and Enugu states, said they would also visit Ebonyi, and Abia before the end of 2018.
“The big dream of IFETACSIOS is the coming together of all the Eastern states of Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Abia to sign an accord on the abolition of osu, ohu, ume and diala one day,” she said.
The IFETACSIOS boss said that the group apart from meeting with the leadership of the traditional rulers also engaged various community leaders to tackle peculiar challenges faced by communities with a view to ensuring total eradication of the problems.
She noted that in resolving those issues in communities the chairmen of each of the South Eastern states traditional rulers would finally sign the abolition agreement.
Maduagwu applauded the traditional rulers for responding to the meeting which would 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, said it was absolutely necessary to wipe out the osu/diala caste system completely in Igbo land to ensure robust relationships.
“There is the need for people from all parts of Igbo land to come together and agree that these obnoxious cultural practices which our forefathers introduced no longer have effect on us and our children’’, he said.
HRH Eze Emmanuel Onyia, the traditional ruler of Odokpe community in Ogbaru area of Anambra noted that there was no community in Igbo land that did not observe the osu/diala harmful traditional practice.
Onyia, who doubles as the deputy chairman of the Anambra Traditional Rulers Council said: “osu/diala caste system dichotomy was still very much with Ndigbo, and it is modernization that play down the impact’’.
The royal father who said that his Odokpe community has ohu (slaves) caste, hinted that the community are seriously working to abolish the tradition.
“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,” he said.
NAN reports that other traditional rulers from various communities in the state were also at the meeting.