Osu: My Mum Is Strongly Rejecting The Girl I Want To Marry
A social media user seeking advice wrote
I would like to use this opportunity to seek guidance based on the issue I have on ground. I believe it’s igbos especially elderly person who is in a better position to give me a reasonable explanation. I told my mum my girlfriend is from Ohafia, Abia state and she instantly told me I can’t get married to her. Her reason is because people from Ohafia, Arochukwu, Izombe, and few other places in Abia state are regarded as OSU [Outcast]. I complained to other members of my family but they also rejected her.
I have made some research personally and found out people from other part of igboland marry from those places. Now my question is why are they strongly rejecting her cos it doesn’t make sense to call everybody from different local government in abia state OSU.
I’ve made more research on the girls family and found out they are king makers and her father belongs to Eze’s cabinet [Kings cabinet].
Her father and mine are no longer alive. They both have a traditional title and belong to eze’s cabinet too. Please I need your advice cos I really want marry this girl. I also know that people encounter alot of difficulties when they want to get married. So I need a clarification from someone who has extensive knowledge on igbo tradition. Thank you
What is the Osu caste system?
The Osu Caste System is an ancient practice in Igboland that discourages social interaction and marriage with a group of people, referred to as Osu (outcasts). This is because they dedicate these Osu people to the Alusis (deities) and are thus seen as inferior to the Nwadiala (free-borns).
This system has been traced back to a time when people were offered to the deities to clean the land from an abomination. Another view on the historical perspective of the Osus puts them as defiant people who simply refuse to head to the orders of the king or the decision of the community.
What happens to an Osu?
As an Osu, you’re kept in a state of permanent and irreversible disability and subjected to abuse and discrimination. The Osus are made to live separately from the freeborn and live close to shrines and marketplaces. They are not allowed to have any forms of relations with the Nwadialas.
They even may not break kola nuts at meetings or pour a libation or pray to God on behalf of a freeborn at any community gathering.
An Osu cannot marry a free born. It is because of this that there are tons of investigation in Igboland when marriages are announced. Elders from both sides travel and conduct investigations to inquire about the social status of the family.
Osu system in Igboland today
Since modernisation in Igboland, people have criticised the Osu Caste System for defying the basic human rights. A couple of scholars have likened the Osu system to slavery and that it should be abolished.
However, it is still practised in some parts of Igboland, such as Oba in Anambra state. The maltreatment meted out to the Osu has forced many of them to migrate to other countries, abandon marriages and commit crimes against humanity in Igboland.
Abolishing this system will restore the dignity of human beings, promote peaceful relationships and reduce conflicts in society.