Although the Nigerian Government in 1956 ratified a law that abolished the Osu caste system, the abhorrent practice of untouchables and discrimination continues to exist amongst the majority of the Igbos population living in the Southern parts of Nigeria. It is unfortunate that even after half a century of a law against this sickly practice this deeply entrenched caste system continues to pronouncedly flourish in Nigeria.
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Some attributions to clarify this point can be taken from the fact that under flimsy pretexts some people may even be declared Osus if they do not practice the conventional practices of the presumed superior class of society members.
The Osu are considered as untouchable in Nigeria and unfairly portrayed as being lazy, dishonest and dirty with repulsive odour as an overall people of almost 2 million who despite legislative laws continue to suffer injustice and social disabilities in our modern times that still has primitive mentalities. (Untouchability in Nigeria & Victor Dike, Sacramento, California)
The origins of the Osu caste system is a debatable issue as they are viewed with conflicting representations. According to some this system come into existence when people become slaves for rituals after being dedicated to Gods and thereafter it was considered taboo for other people to socialize with them. This system can also historically be dated thousands of years back when the rules of Osu must have been decided upon with the requirement factors of communities and villages to have dominance over the minorities.
A source also claims that after a community, village or town lost a war; its inhabitants became Osu to placate their conquerors and would be obliged to give some of their kin for sacrificial purpose to the gods of their victors to appease them. These victims eventually became the slaves of the conquerors and lived in their temples and shrines dedicated to the gods of their victor's in their towns and were originally named as the Osu.
It is incredible that the Osu caste system effects much of the population that stays on the eastern side of the River Niger in inflicts emotional and mental distress on being alienated with some villages continuing to discriminate even generation upon generation of the first Osu specifically when it comes to the issue of marriages. The terrible caste system nightmare continues to therefore haunt the 2 million Osu people absurdly even in the 21st century. (Osu caste system: 21st Century absurdity in Igboland)
People termed as Osu and its Heredity
Traditionally the Igbo society is split in the Diala (also known as the Nwadiala) as the freeborn people and the Osu as the untouchables and as culturally the Osu people are portrayed as being unclean, they are presumed to have the capacity to defile others and they are therefore isolated out of fear that they would contaminate society. However as the earlier Osu generations were allowed to be non-celibate even when they were slaves, their children continued to inherit their Osu status. As the Osu caste system is deeply rooted in the Southern Nigerian society, the Osu can not even farm next to the Diala; on dying the can be buried on designated days and they can not become rulers or representatives of communities and there is such deep revulsion of the Osu that in the Igbo society that marriages precede investigation by the Diala to verify that the bride or groom is not by any
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“The Osu Caste System Amongst Igbos in Nigeria Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1520681-the-osu-caste-system-amongst-igbos-in-nigeria.
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