Catholic Church Puts Final Seal on Abolition of Osu System in Anambra

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David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

The Catholic Church has put a final seal on the abolition of the Osu Caste system in Igbo land with a thanksgiving Mass celebrated at the ancient town of Ora-Eri in Aguata local government area of Anambra State.

Recall that the traditional ceremony abolishing the over 500 years old obnoxious system was performed by the Okpala Eri XIII, Anthony Okafor, on 14th September 2019 during which those hitherto referred to as Osu and the freeborn decided to put the past behind.

At that ceremony, the traditional ruler of Ora-Eri, His Royal Highness, Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu warned that henceforth, anybody who referred to another person as Osu would be dealt with. To drive home the importance of last year’s ceremony, the Ora-Eri community on Thursday invited the church to make Christian pronouncement banning the system in the entire Igbo land.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Jonas- Benson Okoye who was at the head of the celebration, with five other priests expressed happiness with Ora-Eri community for collaborating with the church in the abolition of Osu system in the town, explaining that the thanksgiving mass was to conclude the exercise that began last year.

Reverend Monsignor Jerome Madueke, who delivered the homily at the church service, traced the origin of Osu in Igbo land, recalling that some people, out of sheer wickedness, were dedicated to idols for no justifiable reasons. “These (Osu) people lived upright life. They were respected because of the idols that owned them. Nowadays, people are busy destroying the physical structures (idols) which were symbols of worship of our forefathers, but still retaining them in their minds and spirit, fearing them and attributing all their woes to them.

“But since Jesus came that we may have life and have it in full, everybody is equal before God and all gifts come from God and to be used for the good of others especially the less privileged.

“It is regrettable that we worship God and idols together because of our lack of faith. Our ancestors should be pardoned because they worshiped idols out of ignorance. Let us appreciate that Jesus came and abolished distinction between free born and slaves.

“Unless we allow God to come into our minds, behaviours and relationship with others, the issue of Osu may still linger. I want to observe that in addition to the formal abolition of Osu system, there is still great work to do and I pray that by the grace of God, the town can achieve much more.”

He thanked Ora -Eri people for living up to Christ’s injunctions by taking the bold step to abolish Osu in the community.

The traditional ruler of the town, HRH Ezenri Emmanuel Nriagu warned that henceforth anybody in his domain who discriminated against others on the basis of Osu caste system would face the full weight of traditional sanction.