By Okechukwu Okoro
‘Caste’ is not an Igbo word, what we have is Osu and not Osu-caste. Cast was introduced by the Igwes/Ezes formally called warrant chiefs or as some people ridiculously labeled them ‘warrant thieves’.
I used the picture below because that is the image they want you to have about OSU, I mean the so called traditional rulers imposed on us by the colonial monsters, for indeed we never had rulers but leaders prior to colonialism. Here are some insights about Osu and why it can’t be abolished.
Be it in ancient or in present time, there has never been anything like “CAST” in Igbo vocabulary, the closest in meaning to the English word is “IMAPU NA IHU ALA” which is practically a sentence and not a word, and it is strictly meant for those who committed ‘nsoala’ (abomination), it is a kind of punishment for a crime committed and not a racist kind of act as suggested by the term “Caste”.
Another thing that we must note is that there has never been any known law nor tradition in Igbo land that prohibits anyone from marrying anyone on the bases of Racial or ethnic discrimination. These are all propaganda from western religion, a psychological and political attack on the indigenous culture and spirituality of the people.
This is more pronounced especially now that they have seen the obvious end of foreign deities and religions in Igbo land because of the massive wave of awakening from the social media. Now ask yourself, why the so called noise of abolishing now and why sponsored, pushed and backed by the foreign religious bodies…?
If there are ever such practices or laws, it must be on the bases of preventing one from marrying his or her siblings or relations who must have migrated and now owns a settlement, people of same close ancestry are often prohibited from marrying from such town or village to avoid the negative repercussions of siblings getting married to each other. But these foreign proponents of useless religions who know absolutely nothing about our ‘NTOALA’ (Foundation) will come tagging it discrimination and as such deceiving many young ones and leading many to their early graves.
Now back to the Osu discussion. One thing we have failed to realize about Osu is that:
1. Osu is neither a system nor a practice but rather a people. They were neither made nor crowned so but rather were born so. It is not a title but rather an origin and an identity; it is who they are as a people.
2. The second thing is that Osu is beyond cultural hence if seen or handled so be it in writing or words, mistakes will definitely be made. Osu is spiritual. Now let me ask, can one deliver a priest from being a priest..? I don’t mean the western kind of priesthood which one only needs to go to school (Seminary) to become; I mean those who were born with that gift of being a dibia or priest however way you choose to call it. Can priesthood be abolished? If yes then Osu can, but if not then Osu can’t.
For indeed Osu are priests, a special kind of it. They can be referred to as ‘Professors’, whereas Di-Alas are known as ‘masters’ of the land, for the term Di means master. Professorship is far greater than masters’ degree, later you wonder where the Oyibo got those terms from.
The spirit of Osu is far too stronger than that of any be it Di ala, Ume and co and the Osus hyave got strict abstinence to certain things. Once anyone be it di ala marries the Osu, the spirit of Osu being stronger than any, possesses the person thereby making such a person an Osu.
If such a person does not know of the do’s and don’ts and all the necessary abstinence of the Osu, then the spirit may begin to trouble the person and often time may lead to trouble or death. Hence it was advised that before you marry them, you must get yourself acquainted with the rules first or stay clear from them completely. It was never segregation nor discrimination of any sort, but rather for the good of all.
By this, it is still not 100% right to say that people can marry anyone they like or love, yes it is right but with certain clause; if and only if such a person is ready to shoulder the responsibilities that is ahead.
The above is about the first category of Osu, the original meaning of the term Osu, for they are no casts as these 21st century warrant chiefs suggests, but rather they are special people. The natural born ‘professors’ of their time, priest and a sacred people set aside for special responsibilities.
Though there are second and third categories/generations of Osu which resulted from the rascality of this same warrant chiefs who aided the Europeans to conquer our people and in return were made warrant rulers over the people. For it was the original Osu people who used their wisdom and ingenuity to pose the greatest resistance to colonialism.
Hence the warrant thieves were instructed upon the departure of the colonial monsters to either eliminate the Osus or risk being overthrown by them, for the colonial monsters knew for sure that the Osus are stronger and able to overthrow those charlatans that they gave guns.
Hence the warrant rulers and their masters declared the Osu to be outlawed, backed by the colonial religious angle, they were further described as the people of Satan since they refused to succumb to foreign deity called Jesus but rather remained with the indigenous.
The warrant chiefs began the execution and subjugation of Osu in the early days. All these were just to have them intimidated and crushed psychologically in other to eliminate any form of opposition to their rule.
The second and third category of Osu came into existence when the tyranny of these warrant thieves escalated that they began to kill people and take their wives, they and their cabinets began to forcefully take lands from people and placing unnecessary taxes and levies on people.
Majority of the people willingly ran to the deities to offer themselves to become Osu in exchange of the deities protection against these agents of colonialists and their cabinets’. This was the second generation of Osu being born.
And the third came during subsequent inter tribal and global war fare, those captured were also dedicated to certain juju to serve, but those ones were marked by their ears being chopped a little. So my dear, the abolition saga is just a resurrected old war, or should I say history about to be resurrected. It is because nothing is ever new for the past 2000 years. It’s all about recycling until the justice/Kamalu arrives.
So the abolishing saga is to insinuate that it was the Igbo people who segregated against the Osu or rather who segregated against a given set of the Igbo people and then called them Osu. This is indirectly insinuating that Osu means outcast or slave and thereby imposing their crimes on the entire Igbo nation. It is also making the 21st century of Osu ignorant of whom they are, and even make them reject the term Osu.
There is nothing like cast in Igbo language, what we have is Osu, simple and short. And it doesn’t mean outcast. This is still a form of attack on our culture and spirituality by the foreign religion, so that whenever you say LETS GO BACK HOME, they can easily ask; go back to what..? Are you going back to Osu cast which has been abolished or the killing of twins. These are two different war heads of propaganda as if that’s what Igbo culture is known for.
If you say yes we have abolished it, that means that you have admitted that it existed, and as such that it was in our culture to discriminate against our own, but if you say no we can’t abolish it then you will appear as a wicked fellow who love killing twins and casting people out. Not many will understand this game that the colonial monsters play, but I tell you it’s all a game.
They will keep abolishing whatever and not Osu. Period.