History will be made on December 27, 2019, when the indigenes of Abba community in Nwangele Local Government area of Imo state will meet to put a final seal on the abrogation of the Osu, Ohu/Ume caste system in the area. The caste, a social stigmatization system, which had bogged down the Igbo race for centuries, tends to segregate individuals on the basis of birth.
It is an ancient practice in Igboland, which discourages social interaction and marriage between a group of persons called ‘Osu’ (the untouchables) and those referred to as ‘Nwadiala’ (the freeborn). The Osus, popularly known and called outcasts are said to have been dedicated to fearsome Igbo deities, hence the myth of stigma surrounding them. They are also regarded and treated as inferior to Nwadialas, the so called freeborns.
The ceremony, which will also culminate in the celebration of Abba Day, is being held under the auspices of Abba Ama Ano Community Development Union (AACDU) led by Chief Paul Ozigbo and Coordinated by Barrister Stan Chike Ofoma.
The journey to the ceremony, which started on November 2, with a sensitization program to all the four autonomous communities of Umuokwara, Umudurunna, Ekitiafor and Ogwuaga, and the daughters of Abba (Umuada), culminated on December 3, with the rites of abrogation performed by the traditional title holders (Ndi Nze na Ozo and Oji Ofo) and witnessed by a delegation from Nri Ancient Kingdom, said to be sphere of religious and political influence in Igboland. A statement signed by the Chairman of traditional title holders, (Ndi Nze na Ozo), Dr. CKC Anyanjo and the Public Relations Officer, Dr. Okechukwu Akogu, described the rites as an uphill task, but expressed satisfaction that they were able to pull the process through despite all the challenges littered along the way.
The statement said, “The culmination of this whole process into the epoch and historic abolition proclamation by Onye Ishi Nze Abba amano (Nze ( Dr) CKC Anyanjo), at 4:35pm of 3/12/2019, after a sixteen cannon gun shots and its reinforcement by Ndi oji ofo and another 21 cannon shots in the four autonomous communities between 5pm to 6:15pm in Ala Abba was symbolic – bringing to finality the end of Osu, Ume and Ohu cast system in Abba clan.” Speaking on the event, the traditional ruler of Ekitiafor, Ekiti II, Eze Ononenyi Uzoma, said that it was the agreement of all the people of Abba that the system must come to an end. He described it as aN encouragement to other communities in Igbo land that still practices the system to end it because it has no place in modern times. Queen Mother of Ekitiafor, Her Royal Majesty, Ugoeze Uzoka, who spearheaded the whole process, described the practice as obnoxious and vexatious, stressing that it is incongruous for any person to see another as an outcast, when there is no outward sign or insignia on the face designating them as outcast and others as freeborn, reports Daily Trust
It will be recalled that on December 28, 2018, popular Nollywood actor, Joseph Okechukwu led traditional and religious leaders, civil society organizations and political think tanks to Agukwu Nri where the Osu Caste system was spiritually and summarily abolished in Igbo land. Mr. Okechukwu who spoke to Channels News immediately after the event insisted that the abolition exercise was bound to create a ripple effect that would reach every community in Eastern Nigeria. He vowed to continue fighting until the practice is completely eradicated in the entire Eastern region of Nigeria. According to him, “what you see happening in Abba community is a sign that God has heard our prayers. Little by little, this cleansing fire of abolition will go round, then my people shall be completely free. We are all made in God’s image. And we must wholeheartedly accept one another without discrimination. Without that, we as a people will never smell freedom from bondage.” Asked whether he will attend the event, Mr. Okechukwu said “Of course!”