The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, has said the time has come for the Osu caste system to be abolished in Igboland.
Describing the practice as antiquated, unlawful and obnoxious, Achebe called for a concerted war against the act.
The Osu caste system, our correspondent learnt, is a practice in Igbo land that discourages social interaction and marriages with a group of persons regarded as slaves. The stigma is transferable to even children yet unborn.
Speaking at a workshop on Thursday in Awka, Anambra State, organised by the Initiative for the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatisation in Our Society, a non-governmental organisation, Achebe said the practice had no place in a 21st century.
He urged traditional rulers in Igbo land to stamp out the practice in their domains, while hailing the body (IFETACSIOS) for its initiative in that regard.
He said, “There is the need for people from all parts of Igbo land to come together and agree that this obnoxious cultural practice, which our fore fathers introduced, no longer have effect on us and our children.
“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 President of IFETACSIOS, Oge Maduagwu, in her address, sought the help of the traditional rulers in the area in the abolition of the Osu caste system.
Maduagwu said abolishing the system would restore the dignity of human beings, promote peaceful relationship and reduce communal conflicts.
She said the Osu caste system had wreaked havoc on the socio-cultural, economic and political lives of the Igbo.
She said, “In Igbo land, it is very sad to note that a young man and young lady might be courting, but the moment either of the two discovers that the other is an osu, he or she will opt out of the relationship.”
According to her, the group has extended the advocacy on the abolition of the harmful practice to Imo and Enugu states.
Maduagwu disclosed that they would visit Ebonyi and Abia before the end of 2018, saying, “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 caste system one day.”
She said apart from meeting with the leadership of the traditional rulers, the group had engaged various community leaders to tackle peculiar challenges faced by communities with a view to ensuring total eradication of the system.