More abominations are being committed in Igbo land now than ever, yet no one is being punished. You cannot hold anyone’s neck to the fire forever because of the sins of his fathers, especially if those sins are now being committed with impunity.
This is basically the argument of His Royal Highness, Eze. Dr. Lucky Okoro, Okoroagbara V of Eziobodo Kingdom and Ezeoha III of Eziobodo Autonomous Community, as he added his voice to the clarion call for Ndigbo to abolish the obnoxious Osu Caste system.
“It is agonising to know that even with the proliferation of churches and aggressive evangelism, the Igbo race is bedevilled with a lot of atrocities in this present dispensation … If this period were then, 80 per cent of Ndigbo would have been involved and committed to Osu Caste System. Since the Igbo tradition and taboos are no longer practiced or enforced ie no more penalties for offenders, why then should we continue to punish those whose ancestors were so involved?” Eze Okoro asked. He was speaking at a Christian Seminar organised by a group of pastors operating under the aegis of Gospel Volunteer Force, on the topic: Should Ndigbo have a Rethink on Osu and Ume Caste System? Implecation for the Traditional Institution, on Saturday October 29.
In his presentation, Ezeoha gave reasons why the age-long discrimination should stop and why past efforts to end it failed.
“If we sincerely and honestly want this caste system abolished, we need to do the right thing, take the right steps, call a spade a spade, do the needful by telling ourselves the truth. Various writers, scholars of thought, advocates and proponents of the abolition of Osu Caste system have forgotten or have refused to acknowledge, within the contest of their vast or wildest imagination and reasoning, including research, studies and observations, the taboos and sacrilegious acts supposedly committed by the ancestors of those involved that attracted such generational curses or punishment as are being experienced in Igbo land today. Igbo tradition of ownership, acts of wickedness and atrocities at various levels and various shades were over looked, never discussed deliberately or otherwise by discussants and those fighting this cause for whatever reasons best known to them,” he said.
The Royal Father called on Ndigbo to have a rethink in the sense that such offences can no longer be punished traditionally. “This is to say to a very large extent that Osu/Ume Caste System and the attendant issues arising therein were generational, foundational and fundamental,” Eze Okoro further stated.
He said the campaign strategy, that is, the strategy for liberating those called Osu/Ume should be first and foremost to get out of bondage, to separate them from the clutches of the deities and thereafter reintegrate them back into the society and comity of Igbo nation.
Eze Okoro listed the following as what the action and approach should be: to accept the situation as true and real, become children of God (believers) and identify the problems associated with each deity and hence ownership in order to use the right prayer points for liberation. Others are: To recognise instruments of participation in the separation process, to cry out aloud in unity to God for rescue and to proffer solutions which may seem difficult in approach.
Earlier, Evangelist Canice Okoronkwo, the project coordinator said that at any point in time God never fails to send preachers to warn mankind of the need to live righteous life and the danger of any sinful act or tradition they are practicing. He listed the Osu/Diala/Ume Caste System in Igboland, indecent dressing, and homosexuality among the evil practices his group would exterminate.
“We are here today to kick against this ancient tradition based on discrimination,” the pastor said and assured participants of divine grace and courage.
Also speaking, Evangelist Ogbuji who represented the chairman called for a collective fight against the obnoxious culture, which he said degraded Ndigbo. “Osu is not Igbo culture but idol worship which cannot be supported by any true Christian,” he added.
Dignitaries who attended the occasion included: Sir Leo Enwerem representing High Chief Akanegbu and HRH Eze Dr Theo Uba, secretary to Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria Owerri Municipal, Bishop Kenneth Eboh of Holiness Evangelical Mission, Dr Felix Eke, Pastor Rev. Goddy Nwanlem (host) and Barr Ezeala.
For some years now, Most Rev Anthony Obinna, the Archbishop of Owerri has been waging a spirited war against Osu/Diala discrimination. This seminar observers say it’s a welcome development as more people are joining in the fight against the obnoxious practice.
The Archbishop has in his campaign condemned strongly any identification with Diala, Osu, or Ume, stressing that “I am diala, I am osu, I am ume”. Preaching during his pastoral visit to Immaculate Heart Parish Orji last Sunday, Archbishop Obinna regretted that the only time Osu/Diala imbroglio rears its ugly head strongly is during marriage or Ezeship tussle “ According to him, “a patient in the hospital who needs blood transfusion does not ask whether the blood is Osu blood of diala blood” We interact and mix together, but when it comes to marriage or chieftaincy, we begin to ask whether one is osu or diala”.