Clerics and traditional rulers in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have called for the abrogation of age-long Osu, Ume, Ohu, and Diala Caste practices in Igbo land.
The religious and traditional institutions in collaboration with NHRC and other non-governmental organisation including Pillars of Hope Africa Initiative (POHAI), Kemdi Chino Opara Foundation, Marvico and Global Family Foundation (GFF) stated this at Mbieri community in Imo State, as part of campaigns across some communities in the South-East to put an end to the caste practice.
The chairman of the abrogation ceremony, Chief Onyewuchi Asinobi, in a statement said the Caste is an ancient traditional religious practice anchored on evil altars and shrines controlled by principalities and powers, and by the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places.
He said that in light of the dedications, covenants, sacrifices, idolatrous practices and the peculiar circumstances surrounding the obnoxious practices, top clergies will on August 28 be conducting community and family liberation prayers as well as services at Afor Nnudo Market Square, Umuagwu, Mbieri to end the practices.
The clergies who will partner with the abrogation include Arch Bishop A.V Obinna, the Metropolitan Catholic Bishop of Owerri, Bishop Chukwuma Opara, Anglican Bishop of Owerri Bishop Collins Chidi Oparajiaku, Anglican Bishop of Ohaji/Egbema, Bishop Innocent Erimujor, Healing the Nation Ministry Int, Bishop Ngozi Durueke, He Reigns Cathedral, Bishop Blaise C. Iwuogo, New Life Evangelical Church, Bishop Stanford Nworgu, Praise Centre Cathedral and Rev. Dr. Victor Isiodu, Balm of Gilead Ministries.
Asinobi said, “A typical proscription of Osu involved a traditional religious ritual where the DIALA community gathered at the village shrine, with the chief priest of the land presiding over the ritual.
The Osu was tied, as the chief priest pronounced over his head, such curses that were supposed to come upon the land. A sacrifice was made on the community altar. And the Osu was dedicated to the deity that ruled over the shrine.
“It was believed that the Osu would bear any evil burden that was supposed to come upon the land and the people; whether sickness, disease, or death. By virtue of the ritual, the Osu was regarded as one that was cursed, abominable, and untouchable. Hence he was ostracised.
“The UME was believed to have been cursed to die prematurely by the gods. Over the generations, it has been established however that the people tagged UME were simply individuals with a history of sickle cell in their family background.
“The Ohu was of the slave class made up mostly of people used as collateral for debts and individuals sold by their kinsmen. A lot of the Ohu were captured in battles, whereas some were drawn from the Osu class.”
According to Asinobi, Imo state governor Sen Hope Uzodinma and the traditional rulers of the 7 autonomous communities of Mbieri including Umueze, Amaike, Awo, Osuji, Obazu, Ezi and Ihite are to play prominent roles in the abrogation ceremony.