Read all about African Cultures, Good Cultures, Bad Cultures, Traditional Marriage, Wrestling, Breaking of Kola, killing of Twins, Albinos, Hunchbacks, Widow Inheritance, Osu Caste System, Insanity cases, Culture and religion, Human rights,....
OSU Caste System has refused
to go away in Africa despite the impact of Christianity, Education,
Civilization and the Human Right Acts Culture.
Osu caste is not practiced
only in South Eastern Nigeria and Southern Cameroon, as many people believe, but is present in most African countries though the belief and degree of discriminatory
treatment defer from countries and communities.
The Osus are people historically owned by deities, and
are therefore considered to be a 'living sacrifice', an outcaste, untouchable and sub-human (similar to the Roman practice of homo sacer). This obnoxious
practice dates back to hundreds of years ago when criminals, slaves and mostly
war prisoners from neighbouring towns were dedicated to deity gods. They will
be taken as slaves and put in shrines to worship and serve their gods. These
prisoners marry themselves and bear children and children’s children who are
also castigated as Osu.
.....I am writing this, not because it has not been written
by some writers before, but as a contribution On my own part towards ‘Change’
from Bad Cultures witnessed in Africa.
Legally today, in Nigerian constitution, OSU system has been abolished but deep
in the minds of the so called Free-borns the Osu System still makes big meaning
. And the Outcastes still carry this stigma with them especially when it comes
to Big political appointments or elections[used by opponents during selections]
and life meaning events like Marriage.
In South Eastern Nigeria, there are traditionally two
classes of people, the Nwadiala and the Osu. The Nwadiala are the free-born and
literally, they are the “son of the soil”. The Osu are the slaves,
strangers, unclean, untouchables and outcasts. The Osus are treated as inferior human beings and kept in a state of permanent and irreversible disability; they
are subjected to various forms of abuse and discrimination. They are made to
live separately from the freeborn; they reside very close to shrines and
market places.The Osu are not allowed to dance, drink, hold hands, associate or
have sexual relationship with the Nwadiala. They are not even allowed to break
kola nut at meetings or pour libation or pray to God on behalf of a freeborn at
any community gathering. It is believed that such prayers will bring calamity
In 1956, the government of the then Eastern Nigeria
passed a law abolishing the Osu caste system. The law freed and discharged
anybody called Osu including the children born to such a person.It declared the practice unlawful and a crime punishable by law. But unfortunately, more
than 50 years after the enactment of this legislation, nobody has been
prosecuted or convicted for breaking the law.
Just recently I travelled to the village, I sat with some
village members discussing. There passed this beautiful young girl, tall, very
fair and beautiful, I noticed her and said that I remember this girl, she has
grown so beautiful. We all laughed and many agreed with me but there and then
they remarked that she is from an Osu family. But I corrected that it doesn’t
matter in life of today, That it is a thing of the past. They vehemently stood
that it is still strong in the community and any free born that marry them is also
castigated as an Osu. I was surprised to hear this because I believed that
people have long forgotten this Outcaste issue.. Even among learned friends, I
mean, Doctors, Engineers, Lecturers [ I will not mention names] they still
strongly believe in this Osu practice and discuss it with utmost seriousness.
.....What is Osu, or rather, who is an Osu? Anyone could
have become an Osu because from the derivation, ‘A war prisoner’ could be anyone. I mean, during wars any side could win and take the other side
as prisoners and make them Osu. In the old testament Bible, the Israelites
[for example won wars and sometimes they are defeated and taken away as
prisoners though they were mighty and favoured by God. In history, we heard
about mighty Persian empire [550 – 330 BC] that was later defeated and brought to fall. Also thefamous Oyo empire. What are we saying in essence ‘’ In wars,
any lucky side could win no matter how mighty or strong you may be. So why do
you think you are too special or too important than the so call Osus just
because God favoured you and you did not fall among the war prisoners of the
I will say it was Ignorance that brought about the Osu.
Same with Slavery, Eunuchs, Killing of Twins, etc. But today we should come to
accept change. Leave Pride and selfish interest behind and do what is right. In
the past, Slavery was a legal trade, a legal source of income for countries and
individuals. This was stopped due to change. Before the 19th centuries, eunuchs
were very legal. Infact, any family that will produce an eunuch is a blessed
family because he is going to leave in the kings palace, even if it is to serve
as a slave. All these are stopped today due to Change.
Many people are enjoying today in Africa and all over
the world due to the stoppage of Slavery. You can move about freely, get good
education, get good home, good life because you no longer have to fear of being
captured, sold and maltreated as a slave;
Many Widows in Africa today enjoy their freedom of life because of
Change. They now have their human rights, have their belongings not taken from
them and no longer have the fear of being forcefully asked to marry one of the
husbands’ kinsmen; Many families are enjoying their Twins, Quadruplets, etc.
today. They no longer have to fear of their children being killed.
There is even one
issue that has just come to my mind, the case of Insanity. There are many
insane people roaming the streets of Africa today. Are all these people really insane or is it as a result of some maltreatment or stigmatization meted on them, and brought about by some old cultural wrong belief.No one seem to notice or talk about it. Maybe, because
of fear of being victimised or killed. Although, people don’t concern
themselves with problems, however bad it may be unless, it affects them.I think it is bad, need to be looked into,
discussed and abolished too. .......People are stubbornly so wicked that any little excuse
they have to oppress or suppress the
other, they want to hold that so tight not to let you go. Most of these so
called Osus are, Education wise, very much educated than the free-born;
Business wise, progress and very much richer than the free-borns; etc. So, why
are you so proud that you cannot allow Change when even the ‘gods’ blesses them
more than you.
Equality and Diversityis going on around the world today. Gender equality, Racial equality, Age, disability, Religious equality, etc. It is all about ‘creating a fairer society, where everyone can participate and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential’. Eliminating prejudice and discrimination, thereby, allowing a healthier and happier society. It is all about CHANGE. And Change is what we need in Modern Africa. We should put aside Pride, Anger, selfish interest, etc and bring about
good Changes in our society if Equality and Diversity is to yield desirable
fruit in Africa. The courageous fight of
the good old Abraham Lincon and William Wilberforce who stood strong and
abolished Slavery; The courageous work of the good old Mary Mitchell Slessor, who fought strong, among all odds, to abolish The Killing of Twins in
Nigeria, etc. should not be made to waste.