George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
A new chapter was introduced into the history of Nkoto Ihube community in the Okigwe council area of Imo State with the abolition of the discriminatory Osu caste system there on Saturday, May 11, 2019.
This came on the heels of similar pronouncement by the people of Orogwe community in Owerri West council area, sometime last year.
On the fateful day, the clergy, the community leaders and the Akajiofors (kingmakers) assembled at the community hall and declared the progressive action.
Men of God who are members of the Ihube Christian Fellowship (ICF) prayed and implored the Almighty God to forgive their ancestors who had burdened them with the obnoxious and inhuman practice; they equally asked the forgiveness of those of their kinsmen who had borne the brunt of the Osu caste through no fault of theirs.
To underline their serious intentions that those who were previously regarded as Osu were now free, without any cultural inhibitions like the diala (Free born), they, for the first time, all ate and drank together after the prayer session organised as part of the cleansing of the land.
National President, Ihube Christian Fellowship, Evangelist Kingsley Amaramiro, who was excited over the development described the day as not only historic but a day of freedom for everyone in the community.
“It is a historic day for all indigenes of Nkoto Ihube in the sense that the osu barrier that had previously enslaved everyone both the diala and the so called osu in the community has been broken today. As you can see, the traditionalists, Christians and community leaders have come together under the same roof to denounce this bondage called Osu caste system that has for ages denied our people unity of purpose.
“Every man and woman is free; and as it is today in Ihube land, there is no more Jews, Greeks or Gentiles again. What our forefathers did in ignorance is today being corrected by present fathers. After today, it would be sacrilegious for anyone to call his fellow brother or sister an osu.
“I am happy that we have succeeded in making this ancient yoke amongst our people a thing of the past and we will not go back to this inhuman path again. We pray other communities in Okigwe that are still clinging to this evil practice to borrow a leaf from what our people have done today,” Amaramiro.
He further revealed that the community would be holding an elaborate ceremony to publicly consummate the decision by December where many prominent sons and daughters of the community that had been previously regarded as osu will be honoured with chieftaincy titles as a way of cementing the oneness of the people.
One of the Akajiofors in Ihube, Darlington Ibimere expressed profound gratitude to members of ICF for spearheading the abolition of the obnoxious caste system.
“I am one of the Akajiofors of this community and as one of the custodians of the culture and tradition of the people of the community; I must thank members of Ihube Christian Fellowship for their bold step in fighting for the abolition of the Osu caste in the community and we are fully in support that was the reason you see us here. First the time in the history of this community we ate and drank together under the same roof; it never happened before. The significance of what happened today is that we can now inter marry and relate and do everything together because the Osu caste barrier has been broken,” he said with excitement.
Similarly, Chairman of Ihube Indigenous Ministers, Rev. Ejike Okereke revealed that the caste system had been a major source of disunity in the area as the dialas were equally affected since they could not mingle with certain persons in the community. But, he thanked God that the yoke has been broken and the people now free to relate.
The cleric said: “I am particularly overwhelmed by the firm decision of Ihube people to end this evil practice because while it lasted you cannot seek for help from a diala if you were regarded as an osu neither can an osu assist the diala even when they were from the community. If someone dies and he or she happens to be a diala those regarded as osu would not attend and verse versa. It was a terrible situation, you can’t even inter marry because doing so would earn the diala outright ostracism by his kinsmen. So, I am particularly happy that the people have taken the right path by doing away with this ancient practice that has created division amongst the same people.”