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The purview of this research work is to examine the Social and Religious Implications of the Osu Caste System in Oguta L.G.A of Imo State. The study tries to find out the causes or reasons of the Osu Caste System and the problems it has created in our society and to suggest some possible ways by which it could be eradicated in the Igbo society. The study aims towards making a critical survey of the Social and Religious Implications of the Osu Caste System in Oguta LGA. It has five chapters: Chapter one is the introductory chapter. It analyses the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, research questions, significance of the study, methodology, definition of the study, Delimitation of the study and the definition of concepts. Chapter two makes an explicit review of relevant literature on the topic (Social and Religious Implications of the Osu Caste System). Chapter three focuses on the background of the Osu Caste System in Oguta LGA. It discussed the Historical background of Oguta, the Osu Caste System in Oguta, the Caste System in India and the caste system in the Bible times. Chapter four presents the implications of Osu Caste System: it focuses on legal, economic, psychological, ethical and religious implications. Finally, chapter five focuses on the Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation and profound some possible means by which this Osu System could be eradicated.

by Onyekachi Nkwesi.



1.1      Background to the Study

            Social inequality and stratification have always existed from time immemorial in almost every society. The peculiarity and commonality of this system as manifested in diverse forms depending on the culture and tradition of the people in question. Every society, therefore, identifies its individuals in conformity with its own social structure. However, this identification polarizes the people and brings along far-reaching consequences like the problem of freeborn (Diala) and Osu Outcaste.

            The Osu caste system in Oguta singular and Igboland, in general, could be associated with the untouchable as offered in the caste system of other lands. In Igboland, a person who is said to be an Osu is regarded as more of a leper or even worse than a leper and is isolated in most of the functions. Osu in Igboland is a person offered to the Alusi “a god” or a person owned by an idol or god and his descendants after him are automatically “married” to the god. Oguta people are known with different handiworks both in craft and industry. They are good at bringing up a new idea but the problem is that they lack the facilities to adapt to innovation.

            Actually, in the past, Oguta people do not believe in a just society where there is equal opportunity for all to succeed and live happily. If it is so, Osu couldn’t be an issue. But in this time, one can rightly say that Oguta people have derived the equalitarian concepts of life from their culture. In spite of the said equalitarianism of the Oguta people, the Osu caste system still exists. One might be wondering how this Osu came? According to Onuoha, the institution of Osu started several years before the advent of the Europeans in west African. In the olden days, polytheism and idol worship were the ideal religious practices when plague or certain natural phenomena such as epidemics, wars, hunger and starvation, etc. descended on the people, they assume it was the handiwork of their gods, as a result, there was a need to appease them. Human beings and animals were usually used for the sacrifices as their gods demanded. If a human being was to be used, the ear of the person is cut off at the ceremony of this dedication to the service of an “Alusi” also a mark was given on the person after the sacrifice was made to show that the person is not to be associated with anyhow. Thereafter the “male slave” or “Osu” person will no longer be a complete son of the soil (NwaDiala)1.

            There were still other ways or means by which people become Osu- some people, in order to get rid of their difficulties like to avert their debts or escape from offenses they committed or evade wars or fear of falling victim to slavers and other personal difficulties, can beckon on a god and as a result, become Osu.2

            In these and other ways, the Osu system spread to many parts of Igboland and remained as a recognized institution to this day. Osu is discriminated against by the freeborn but it must be noted that this Osu system is not practiced in some parts of Igboland including the Oguta Community.

            Efforts have been put on the ground towards abolishing these obnoxious practices by different communities, especially in urban settlements because of the complexity of the cities. However, if one is identified as Osu anywhere the measure will applicable to him or her.3

1.2      Statement of the Problem

            The Osu system has constituted a lot of problems in Igboland, these problems are shown in the socio-cultural and practices of the people.

In Oguta the Osu cannot handle any office in the village assembly. Often times their suggestions are not considered just because of their subordinate social position in the social order. An Osu cannot be married by “Diala” (freeborn) because of the mysterious repercussions attached to his marrying an Osu. In a situation where a Diala mistakenly marries an Osu he has committed a taboo and the victim will be repudiated by his parents and the entire community and will belittle to Osu status. Despite the call by religious bodies and government to put an end to these practices, no freeborn or “Diala” in Oguta irrespective of his/her religious inclination will accept to marry an Osu. These have affected the Osu in terms of marriage unless they move out to another town or city. The Osu people are socially, economically, psychologically and spiritually abused.

            Osu was discriminated against in terms of burial, the freeborn does not touch or carry the coffin or corps of an Osu. In some places an Osu could not be buried rather the corps would be thrown into (Ajohia) evil forest. This has stopped because of development and the unhealthy condition it creates. One will understand here that the death of an Osu matters little to the freeborn as a result of their position in social strata or ladder.

            Even in the market, an Osu trader in Oguta would normally go to the village market with others, but he/she would find it difficult to buy or sell his/her articles even when they were better than those of the freeborn. It is difficult if not possible for a “Diala” and an “Osu” to partner in business. The Osu no matter their position in the society is still not allowed to break or share Kolanut to the freeborn. This is a problem between the (Osu and the freeborn). These segregations or discriminations sometimes fight which may lead to loss of life.

            The Osu system and its practices are going into extinctions but there are some fractions of it that could be seen in our present-day society like the issue of inter-marriage between the Osu and Diala. This goes a long way to explain that any freeborn planning to get married to an Osu will not get the consent of a parent or both parents. This has eaten deep into the society irrespective of the impacts of Christianity and civilization.

            Secondly, the problem of making an Osu a chief or king over the freeborn even if they worth it. This is the socio-political implications of Osu practice in the life of the Oguta people. Again, to know the extent or impact of modernity on the Osu problem. These are some of the problems created by the “Osu” caste system which were said to have started sometimes in the 14th and 15th centuries when the Igbo people were looking for an alternative to human sacrifice.

1.3      Purpose of the Study

            This work aim at addressing the ways and means for arresting the continuous and snow batting ethnic problem of the Osu caste system that remain largely a threat to co-existence of non-Osu and OSU people in Oguta L.G.A, and the Igbo as a whole.

The purpose of writing this project therefore include:

  1. to find out what brought about Osu Caste System
  2. the reasons for the Osu practice in Igboland in general and Oguta in particular.
  3. the ways Osu System is practiced in Oguta
  4. critically surveying the social and religious implications of the Osu Caste System in Oguta.
  5. To make vital recommendations

1.4      Research Questions

            The objective of this research is to ascertain the fundamental implications, consequences and possible remedies to social-implication of the Osu caste system in Oguta L.G.A as it influence co-existence and Socio-economic performances in the community. To accomplish the objectives, the following research questions were raised to proffer possible solutions in the study. These questions are:

  1. What is the Osu caste system?
  2. What are the reasons for the “Osu” practice?
  3. What are the socio-political implications of the Osu practice in the life of the Oguta people?
  4. What impact has Christianity and educations made on the problem of the Osu Caste System in Igboland?
  5. What are the solutions to these Osu Caste System?

1.5      Significance of the Study

            The significance of research work must be such that it will provide a justification for doing the work or carrying out the research study. Also, it is something that the society and particular interest groups will benefit from. This study will be of most use to researchers, students, religious and traditional leaders. In the same vein, it would contribute to providing useful solutions to emancipate society from the negative implications of practices or system on man mostly on Igbo society at large, thereby restoring orderliness, love, happiness, oneness in Oguta.

            Also, it will serve as reference material for religious studies and other social researchers who may wish to study the “OSU” system in other areas. Adding to this, the work contains some of the things scholars have written down.

1.6      Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is limited to the Oguta people in Imo State, Nigeria where the “OSU” caste system had been a problem. The researcher encountered a number of problems in the course of this study.

            First, the time limit given by the school for this research work was short. Hence the researcher was unable to carry out the fieldwork in a more detailed way as he had wanted.

            In addition, the sensitivity, risk and controversial nature of the topic hindered the study to a regrettable extent. Many of the respondents due to apathy or fear of personal reason refused to be interviewed. Even those who accepted to be interviewed did not discuss extensively on the issues raised, especially on the past predicament of the “OSU”

1.7      Research Methodology

This research work is a historical account and as such will be presented with a historical approach. For the purpose of this work, two sources will be used namely; the primary and the secondary source.

The primary sources deal with an oral interview which will be majorly exploited in this as a result of data of information. The oral information will be gathered through posing unstructured questions (relevant to this study) to selected men and women.

While the secondary sources will be based on written documents that are available. Information from magazines, newspapers, etc. and the internet will also be consulted if compliant.

1.8      Definition of the Terms

            In other to avoid Semitism unnecessary confusion and ambiguity in the use of words the following terms are defined contextually:

  1. Social: according to oxford advanced learners dictionary 7th edition, it is something connected with the society and the way it is organized is activities in which people meet each other in a friendly manner for pleasure4.
  2. Implication: According to the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, 7th edition; the implication is a possible effect or result of an action or a decision5.
  3. Osu: according to Obi. Etymologically, “the name Osu means, one connected with a deity or the divine in a special way, as opposed the ordinary man” “Osu” is also referred to as a social stratification institution in which an individual is either “Nwa Diala” or “Osu”. In this pattern, an ‘Osu’ is an outcast while Nwa Diala is freeborn. Osu does not have full rights and privileges that “Diala” enjoys. But it is based on religious mythical consideration6.
  4. Caste System: Alaukwu, the caste system is essentially a stratification system. Castes are rigidly strategical human groups that do not allow social mobility from one stratum to another and individuals positions are inherited
  5. Social inequality. Alaukwu, social inequality is the division of members of society into various categories with regard to certain criteria as sex, age, ethnicity, economic position, political position and so on8.
  6. Social Stratification: This can be seen as dealing with social inequality which recognizes the differential accesses to resources, benefits, and opportunities by different individuals and groups. Its emphasis is on how individuals benefit from the distribution of resources vis-a-vis other people or groups in the same society9.
  7. Slave (Ohu)” Alakwu. It is an institution that designates a person either as a slave or a freeborn It is based on economic and political considerations10.
  8. Nwa Diala”: according to Opera, is an individual who is neither ‘Osu’ or “Ohu-he/she does not belong to any caste system. He/she is a freeborn11.




1Onuoha, Emeka U. “Osu caste system and its effect on the people of Owerri.” A B.A. Project work submitted to the Department of Religious Studies. (Owerri: Alvan Ikoku College of Education, 1991), 3-4

2Ibid, 3

3Ibid, 4

4Hornby, A.S. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 7th edition. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).


6 Obi, Sebastian M. How to Solve the Osu Problem: Diagnoses, Guidelines, Recommendations.  (Nigeria: Agape Education Resources, 1994), 4.

7Alaukwu, Ifeoma Linda. “The “OHU” System and Social Implications.” A B.A Project Work submitted to the Department of Sociology. (Abia State University, Uturu. 1999), 4.

8Ibid, 7

9 Igbo, E. U. M. & E.E Anugwom. Sociology: Basic Concepts and Issues. (Nigeria: AP Express Publishers, 2001), 83.

10Alaukwu, Ifeoma Linda, 7.

11Uche Opera in an Oral interview










2.0      Introduction

Many individuals or scholars have spent much time writing verbiages on issues of the caste system in Igboland and many other parts of the world like India and other parts of the world. Some of the writers emphasized how this system started how it is practiced in the olden days, how it is being practiced now. This research work will look at some of these writers’ views. The practice of the Osu caste system began a long time and has remained for a very long time a hard Knot for historians and anthropologists because for its origin is as complex and intricate as the system itself. But we cannot treat the origin of Osu without the origin of Igbo as a nation; in order to find out how this Osu came about in Igbo tradition, let’s look at the Igbo origin.

2.1      The Brief History of Igbo Origin

The name Igbo is often wrongly written Ibo a vestige of the Colonial masters. According to Afigbo “the term Igbo has shown itself to be rather chameleon in changing its meaning according to time and political climates”. Presently, the word is used in Three main senses to refer to the territory, the speakers of the language and finally, to refer to the language itself. These three words are being differentiated based on the meaning they give and explain thus: ‘Ala Igbo for the territory; ‘Ndi Igbo for the people and ‘Okwu Igbo for the language. The Igbo can be defined as a people whose ethnic lingua franca is exclusively the Igbo language or modifications of it.2

Where the Igbo came from and will definitely remain for a long time a matter of conjecture because of the absence of sources by which they can determine. The Igbo definitely has no general traditions of origin or migration. Unlike the Yoruba, the Igbo have no local traditions among them, do not provide clues to their origin. Is true that no historical question arouses more interest among present-day Igbo than the inquiry where did the Igbo came from?

There has been speculation of where the Igbo come from; nevertheless, two schools of thought have emerged with an answer to it. Each of the schools of thought holds different traditions to explain the origin of the Igbo. The two schools are; the Orientalist school of thought and the modern school of thought.

Among the orientalist school of thought are people like Oluad Equiana an Igbo ex-slave, also people like M.D. Jeffrey, H.R. Palmer, F.C. Ogbalu. This school of thought is of the opinion that the Igbo carry Semitic blood and are linked with the people of the middle east. They based this theory on the similarities of certain Igbo cultural practices with those of Jews3. The modern school of thought is of the opinion that the Igbo has a West African origin. The theory is based on recent researchers, excavations and archaeological finds in Igbo territory. Prominent in this school of thought is A.E. Afrigbo who maintains that the Igbo did not migrate from the orient as many scholars hold but that “they originated from the Niger-Benue confluence six thousand years ago.4

Also to support that the answers are mere speculations, Oraka says, “This does not suggest that these reports have come out with an answer on the origin of the Igbos but at least we shall tend to agree with the modern school of thought that the homeland of Igbo is not in the middle East.”5 Taking a proper look at these traditions, both Orientalistic and Modern school of thought on Igbo origin, the Origin of Osu cannot be established from such a tradition because it did not mention any sect called Osu. We are therefore forced to believe that Osu was not in existence then. Its existence was a later development. Treating the origin of Igbos biologically is problematic. So it cannot be treated in this work exhaustively, its further treatment should be left for researchers and ethnographers. One of the lessons that could be drawn from the attempt made to establish the origin of Igbos from the various traditions as summarized is to show that Igbo society was initially classless with no Osu in existence. This will now lead us to the origin of the Osu Caste system in Igbo culture.

2.1.1  The geographical location

Uchendu said:

One of the largest cultural groups in Nigeria is known as the Igbo. Igboland, therefore bounded in the north by Igala and the Tiv people, in the east by the Ekoi, in the South by the Annang, the Ijaw and the Ogoni people and in the west by the Bini and Isoko people. This means, therefore, that Igbo territory geographically Sketchers across the River Niger from the west of Agbor in Delta State to the fringes of the cross River and running roughly from north of Nsukka highlands to some part of Atlantic Coast. Igboland “has a tropical climate. The average annual temperature is about 800F. With an annual range of between 50 and 10. The year is divided into two clear-Cut seasons: the dry season which lasts between November and March and the wet seasons which lasts between April and October, the south and 10 inches in the North.1

2.2      Origin of Osu Caste System In Igbo Cultures

Lemhi said Igbos as an organized nation has a religion they south to explain in terms of religion the various mysteries they found happing in their environment. In an attempt to solve the mysteries, the idea of appeasing the forces that were responsible for the mysteries came to them. Thus the Osu system began6.

It was a religious idea that gave birth to the Osu caste system. Because Igbos as a nation are classless of the Osu caste system when the world began but their quest for religious worship led them into the idea of the Osu caste system. The researcher discovered that there are no many reasons for the Osu practice in Igboland but it was out of envy, jealousy, hatred depression, humiliation and falsehood that brought about the idea of Osu. Also in order to appease their gods, the idea of using human being alive came because the people believes that the gods or ancestors who live in the spirit world from where they interact and communicate with the living through diviners or dreams could inflict corrective punishment on the living when they found the living wanting in their responsibilities or committing offenses called “nso ala” abomination and offenses against the mother earth (ala).

The offense called “nso ala” abomination includes murder, adultery, envy, etc. the culprits are punished by dying bad deaths such as dying with a swollen body or a bulging stomach. Such people are not mourned and are refused burial rites, the worst’s social limitation in the spirit including the ancestral ones are worshiped and the contravention of their laws is avoided. Where they are offended they are appeased through their priest, as the “ume” priest in the case of “Amadioha” also called “Kamala” god of thunder).

Some spirits might require human beings for atonement. The human beings could either be killed or enslaved to the deities concerned. Where the victims are enslaved they become Osu and are allowed to live. Nowadays, we don’t take laws into our hands it’s the government that executes justice. So we see that it was a religious idea that gave birth to the Osu caste system thereby, making religion central in the life of Igbos, Religion is central in the life of Igbos. For Igbos, religion embodies the human fear of supernatural powers (either imaginary or real) and its attendant beliefs and belief practices. Here religion stands as a controlling principle in traditional Igbo man’s life. Like the Oguta man religion is very essential.

Oguta and Igbo as a whole, beliefs in Chukwu as the supreme God, who possesses power over life and death, whose Judgment is straight, the merciful, ready to forgive the repentant and punish the non-repentant. This Chukwu (God) created the lesser gods who are below him but above man and trouble man at will.

In most cases, these non-human spirits created by God (Chineke) are personifications of natural phenomena experiences in localities, for example, hills, water, forest, etc. Which are believed to be capable of housing spirits? To support these Igbo religious beliefs, Nwoga states, “In order to understand the Igbo world, it is necessary to accept that the Igbo recognizes three types of reality namely the physical, the spiritual and the abstract.”7

Igbo quest for religion led to the Osu caste system through the act of sacrifices and this is true with an Oguta man. Lemchi said:

So inadequate understanding of the scientific explanations of life processes leading to instinctive and illogical thinking culture, based largely on ancient beliefs in the powers of Mythological gods and age-old superstitions are fundamental origins of Osu system in Igbo culture…8

By illogical thinking, the mysteries of the environment as death epidemics, droughts, the birth of twin babies and such were ascribed to mysterious supernatural forces of religion resulting in taking drastic inhuman measures as human sacrifice and dedication of human beings and other beings to deities to appease and counter their actions. This is the religious origin of the Osu caste system among Igbo.

Beside, Opara in an interview said that, when the Igbo as a nation started, people started establishing communities and at the establishment of these communities led to the establishment of these deities which led to sacrifice and brought about sacrificing human being alive as an Osu (outcaste)9. There are other writers who have tried to trace the origin of the Osu system. According to Oguibe in her contribution wrote:

In the olden days, human beings were used as sacrifices to the gods. The scapegoats were those who behave subnormal or one who deviates too much from the norms of the community. One who is less valued in the family was also a good candidate, in some cases, some are kidnapped and sold as slaves. They can also be used…. Somehow someday and gradually it dawned unto people that killing of human beings for sacrifice was not quite right and that something else should be slaughtered in its place. Another ignoramus chapter was open-Osu.10

Durueke had a different view of the origin of the Osu system in Igboland. He explained thus:

Osu system was introduced in Igboland in the 14th Century. A powerful god enforced a Juju Priest that the land had been defiled and Needed purification, to avert the whole land going to ruins, the god kamalu Ozuzu, instructed the high priest to tell the people to produce a slave whose sacrifice would Purify the spirit of their forefathers for the wrong of the new generation, Kamalu ordered that the slave should be sacrificed alive to it. A part of the ear of the slave was cut and used for sacrifice.11

The name of the first slave that was sacrificed according to Durueke was called Osu and his descendants are called ‘Umu Osu’. As we can see, the Osu caste system was introduced in Igboland in about the 14th century when a powerful god was said to have informed a Juju priest that the land has been defiled and needed purification in order to avert the whole land from disastrous ruins.

The god name Kamalu Ozuzu instructed the high priest to tell the people to produce a slave who would be sacrificed to pacify the spirit of the ancestors for the wrongdoings and pervasion of the new religion. According to oral sources, we were told that the name of the first sacrificed slave was Osu. The people were ordered by Kamalu Ozuzu to build him a house. Marry a wife for him and give him a piece of land to farm upon. The people obeyed religiously, therefore Osu was to help Chief Juju priest in serving the gods of the land. To this effect, people were captured either through an inter-tribal war in conquests or kidnappers from other distant neighboring communities out to be offered as a sacrifice to appease the gods.

The Osu caste system could, however, be said to have other origins from the dedications of men and women to the gods either by the individual and communities or by the voluntary act of free persons who give themselves to the gods for the protection of their lives. By this act of dedication, the free individual removes themselves from the yoke of communal covenants to that of the gods. It is the process of dedication to the gods that made them sacred to the community as untouchable.

The origin of Osu like that of slavery is deep-rooted in antiquity. To some people, the Osu closely linked, with the Atlantic slave trade. In other words, the Osu caste system in Igboland was one of the negative effects of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. But a close observation has shown that this institution or ritual slavery started long before the Atlantic slave trade. Recent research has confirmed the antiquity of this social institution and that it was originally religiously motivated.

Beside, Duru. An interview said that Osu is a product of Ohu (slave) Osu came out of Oru or Ohu.12 But all these things, are religiously motivated. From the view of these people, this research work proves that the Igbo origin as a nation, was without ‘Osu’ but Osu came in as a worship to the deities demanding of a human being alive to serve and be his property, also to appease them.

2.3      The Meaning of Osu

According to Achebe he briefly defines an Osu as “a person dedicated to a god”. He further explained thus:

A thing set apart-a taboo forever, and his children after him, he could neither marry nor be married by a freeborn. He was, in fact, an outcast, living in a special area of the village close to the great shrine whenever he went and he carried with him the Mark of his forbidden caste-long tangles and dirty hair. A razor was a taboo to him13.

The researcher found that certainly, Osu is a person set apart, a taboo forever even his children after him, and he could neither marry or be married by a freeborn in the olden days. So in the researcher’s view, Osu is a person forbidden or excommunicated never to associate with the freeborn. But since change is constant in life, this treatment should be changed completely.

Green in his contribution, defined the Osu caste system in Igboland as “people who themselves to or their ancestors have been brought and sacrificed as slaves to a deity of some kind whom they thereafter serve. He added that from that time onwards it is strictly taboo for them or their descendants to marry or have sexual intercourse with any freeborn Ibo14.

The researcher found out here that, this social class called Osu is made to deny it’s victims their social rights in terms of marriage, sexual intercourse with any freeborn is forbidding and their right of association. Even Achebe in his book “No longer East,” told of obi’s father who was a catechist who condemned obi’s efforts to marry Clara an Osu with the following words.

Osu is like leprosy in the mind of our people. I beg you, my son, not to bring the mark of shame and leprosy into your family. If you do, your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation will curse your memory…. Who will marry your daughter-whose daughter will your sons marry? Think of that my son we are Christians but we cannot marry our own daughters.15

Adding to this, Joseph the friend of obi told him earlier to discard the idea of marrying Clara because it is not a matter of knowing book. Also, the president of Umuofia progressive Union warned Obi thus: “Do you have anything to do with a girl of doubtful ancestry or even think of marrying her16. As the love between obi and Clara was Steaming, Clara told him that they cannot marry because according to her, “I am Osu.17

The researcher saw here that this social class called Osu is an obstacle to the victims of the Osu in terms of marriage with the freeborn, putting them into a remorseful state of life. Beside, Duru, in an interview said “Osu is an act of overpowering one either by kidnapping or purchasing and was used for a sacrifice to the gods18

According to Uche, the word “Osu” in Oguta simply means a belief system, a traditional and religious belief that certain people should be discriminated from other people. It is a type of name given to those people that are dedicated to the deities of the land, those that ran to a distanced town due to invasion from their enemies and so forth. Osu can also be seen as a curse while Umuosu is also be seen as a curse or referred to as cursed people. That is why calling a person an Osu is more dangerous than calling him a thief or any other bad name19.

2.4      Reasons for Osu Caste System

The Osu caste system is a very common and prominent feature in the Igbo traditional system and custom. Its practice in Oguta is very similar to other areas in Igbo land where it exists. As we can see, Osu did not start/ where or not there in the Igbo origin, something brought the practice.

We need to look at the reasons which brought the Osu caste system in practice. Ezenagu posited that “certainly there are circumstances that could give rise to any method of the caste system taking place since the system was man-made. The circumstances could be voluntary and involuntary dedication.”20

Therefore, this research work stands to support it. Yes for Osu to take effect, there are certain reasons that might lead to it which is voluntary and involuntary. Furthermore, under the voluntary heading, only a few circumstances could compel one into declaring himself or herself an Osu. People do not as soon as they are born became Osu, unless those who inherited the stigma from their parents, originally from birth.

The factors responsible for this could be victimization and frustration, poverty, debt, and laziness. In victimization and frustration, the superiority of wealth and strength were demonstrably recognized and those who were not opportune to be blessed either way, suffered humiliation for being poor and uninfluential. In an attempt to seek the desired refuge, he could embrace and surrender himself to a deity for protection that had been too remote for him.21

Again, poverty and indebtedness led a freeborn to borrow with interest accumulating to an amount that could be very difficult for him to pay and the freeborn becomes so indebted. To scare away the lender the debtor embraced a deity. This was because of the belief that held way in the area that the lender was bound to attract the wrath of the deity if he or she compelled the debtor having embraced the deity to pay. The lazy ones in the society were always conscious that they were ready commodities to slave dealers that when once they suspected that they might be sold ran into or took refuge with a deity. Like in the first group, involuntary dedication or reason, many circumstances led freeborn into becoming Osu. The primary cause of this was ignorance. Out of ignorance, children during moonlight games inadvertently kill domestic animals owned by a deity. Depending on the situation, the deity in question could refuse the first set of offerings. These offers may include cow, goat, sheep and fowl. The deity could prefer a human being2

This reason is very substantial reasons that led to the Osu caste system. Another reason that gives rise to the Osu system in Igbo, Lemchi quoting Obiji, started in the age of the oracles and divination before Christianity superseded the traditional religion. It started when human sacrifices were used to appease the gods. in those days, a man usually went to the oracle for routine consultation about his family’s future, health and fortunes.

            The community also sent delegates to the oracle to know the causes and remedies for the calamities as epidemics, drought, frequent premature deaths, poor harvest, etc. That plagued the community. The Chief priest of the oracle after consultation with his Juju sometimes would divine that the man of the community would be afflicted by grave illness or that misfortune would befall his family or the whole community. The man or the whole community would be asked to sacrifice a human being or dedicate him as Osu to the gods as an atonement to avert the impending disaster. The magnitude of the atonement would depend on the magnitude of the expected evil23.

            Beside, Nkwesi in an interview said:

The establishment of the Osu caste system, whereby the demand of the community deity. The deity may demand that human being should be sacrificed to it to service it, the people will go to a far community and purchase a slave either male or female and dedicate them to their gods.24

Therefore, this research work supports this assertion that the reasons which led to the establishment of Osu in Igboland are by the demand of the gods when people valued human sacrifice. Furthermore, according to Opara in an interview, gave some reasons for the Osu caste system in Igboland he said:

  1. To empower the deity
  2. To have people who will help in serving the deity
  3. To stop the premature killing of human beings to those deities that is why they will give the person permanently to the deity.
  4. It is used to measure the strength of a particular community before its neighboring community which accords them honor and prestige.
  5. In those days, there were incessant epidemics; there arose a need for human sacrifices to appease those deities.
  6. The Osu is used to control the properties and resources of the diety.

This means the things they used for sacrifice items like, yam, goats, cow, sheep, monkey, cloths, chicken etc. the freeborn do not touch them to avoid those items spoiling over there, the needed someone to take care of them no other person than ‘Osu’ that is why Osu never lack in those days. All the evil forest, or thick forest which the freeborn are forbidding to enter, the Osus farm on them25.

Opara is of a different view which is measured on the people’s interest, boast and pride. Therefore, this research work stands to support these reasons as sure, that one of the reasons for osu practice was for proud, and also to stop the premature killing of human beings to those deities, therefore, they where take and dedicated to the deities as a perpetual sacrifice to appease then.

2.5      The Social Implication of Osu Caste System

We need to consider the implications of Osu as a social problem. The Osu caste system in Igboland has an ending social-cultural stigma. According to Opera, the social relation of Osu man is restricted in terms of a marriage relationship, there is a segregation between the Os and the freeborn, therefore the Osus are segregated against. Once an individual becomes an Osu Igboland, people’s attitude toward him will change26. Ogbalu outlined some kind of segregation and discrimination against them. He wrote thus:

  1. The Osu do not intermarry with the freeborn.
  2. There is no gunshot when they die as is done with the freeborn.
  3. Nobody should cause them to bleed.
  4. Nobody cries when they die
  5. They are not allowed to roof their house with zinc.
  6. They are not buried in the day time but at night
  7. They are given animals sacrificed to gods to eat.
  8. Their houses are locked from the outside when they go to bed so that a freeborn does not meet them first in the morning
  9. Anybody who kills Osu uses a cow to replace the loss instead of being punished. Some of those maltreatments no longer hold today probably because of the dynamism in culture and society.

Ogbala also told us that “even though the government has been making efforts to stop this practice, the people are resisting the attempts27.  The researcher suggests that, since culture is dynamic and not static, the ill-treatment on the Osus based on segregations and discriminations in terms of marriage, and burial, should, therefore, pass away with the dynamism of culture. Durueke agreed with Ogbalu’s view when he narrated that:

One Anambra Chief who fell in love with the law summoned his people read out the legislature to them and declared the system abolished. His people challenged him to give his daughter in marriage to an Osu. He did so and was deposed and ostracized to his charge in.28

Osu caste has much social implication, they include the following:

2.5.1  Burial to osu:

In most parts of Igboland, the dialas do not participate in the burial of an Osu. In the same community, children are forbidden to see the corpse of an Osu. When the corps of an Osu were to be carried through the village of a Diala or freeborn, palm fronds were placed everywhere to warn the people that evil was in the air and a bad event was to happen. This is according to Ezenagu29.

Nkwesi in an interview said “when an osu dies the people (freeborn) will be afar jesting at them with their mouth, calling them Onye Uwa (a curse Person). Furthermore, no freeborn goes to the Osu’s house and carry sit on his/her own and seat down, if he does, he/she automatically becomes an Osu. You there not go to Osus house and take/collect fire, nor drink water in the same cup with an Osu neither will an Osu man.

He further narrated, that you do eat kola nut in Osu house, neither will an Osu break kola nut to a Diala (freeborn)30. This shows that the Osus are well discriminated against in terms of burial and other areas and in terms of marriage.

2.5.2  Marriage

Marriage between the Osu and the freeborn was a taboo eternally. This has been the setting many centuries or decades ago. The incompatibility of the practice of the caste system is very unique when it comes to marriage association which has been and still the two parallel lines at which the two groups have not yet met. This Isolation of the Osu was meant for them to suffer in relation to marriage and sexual intercourse. This forced the females among them to sojourn to distant places where their identity could not be easily traced to get sexual satisfaction. This situation later developed and popularized prostitution among the Igbos especially in communities where this inhuman and wicked practice existed.

           No parents will never allow their children to marry an Osu.31 Likewise in Oguta L.G.A. The researcher find out the issue of marriage between a freeborn and Osu are still held by the people as taboo, for example, a community in Oguta L.G.A. called Izombe, this was such a case like that a lady who married an Osu, her family disown her by ostracizing her, later her parents died the people still believe that was what killed them.

Osu is discriminated against in marriage for the people believe that they are sacrifice given to the gods through their forefathers. Another reason is because of the several consequences and environmental degradation, blackmail and aftermath effect. These effects are in terms of dying untimely death and in order not to be ostracized by their family members and community, they see it as evil and taboo.

Again, Opara in an interview, said that Osu man can never become a Chief of the community, no Osu man will take Ozotitle nor holder any sensitive position in the community32 Yes this is true even as the researcher prove that this is another effect of Osu practice. Nevertheless, the researcher found out that in these modern days, Osu is occupying some sensitive positions, for instance, a village in Izombe Oguta L.G.A, Osu man has once be made the village chairman, also another Osu also the man has become the village secretary and so many others. The Osus also have their own chief, as we can see, many others. These practices are no more as it’s before due to modern transformation (change). But the only issue left is in terms of marriage. These things are some of the social implications of the Osu caste system. Osu has other social implication which has to do with.

2.6      How to Become an Osu

In those days, one of the ways people become an osu is at the causes and remedies for some calamities as epidemics, drought, frequent premature deaths, poor harvest, etc. that plagued the community. The community involves may send delegates to the oracle to know the causes of their problem and solution to it. The chief of the oracle after consultations with his juju sometimes would divine that the community would be afflicted by grave illness or misfortune would befall the whole community. The community would be asked to sacrifice a human being or dedicate him as osu to the gods as an atonement to avert the impending disaster. By this whoever that will be used becomes an osu.

According to Lemchi, there was no osu among Igbos at the beginning. Those who become osu were first “Diala”, freeborn. They become osu in different ways, sometimes when a young was found to be too stubborn, too lazy, a thief, his family will arrange to sell him to those would buy and if possible dedicate him to a deity for atonement, as osu.33

Furthermore, widows who are harassed by the relations of their dead husbands could seek refuge in the osu shrine with their children. Such persons were called “Ojiri ure buru osu” those who became osu with joy,” or those who willingly became osu. The children of the condemned persons could run to the osu shrine for protection. In the circumstance, they become osu.34

Here, the researcher is of the view that the causes of these people becoming an osu is at the result of freedom. Freedom indwells in humans, meaning that freedom is the nature of man. These people want to enjoy full freedom and that leads them to become an osu. According to Nwaosu in an oral interview, adulterous women expelled from their matrimonial homes could take their abode among the osu people. In that respect, they become osu also. Likewise, children who spoke and walked too early in life were regarded as abnormal and thus an abomination to the land. In order to do away with such children, their parents or guardians sold them the purpose of being made osu or used for other purposes. Children who cut the upper teeth first before the lower ones were equally regarded as abnormal and were disposed of by their parents or wards instead of being killed. They were disposed of off to those who would make them osu or sell them into slavery. Also, prisoners of wars among villages, in the olden were made osu, others were victims of kidnapping. 35

There are many other ways people become an osu. According to Nkwesi, given birth to twin babies in the olden days, is an abomination, in such a situation, the twin babies and their mother were driven out of the town, killed or sold into slavery. In order to avoid being killed or sold, she would run to the osu shrine or to osu people for safety. Thus, she and twin babies became osu and were protected. 36

To the researcher, this is an act of ignorance. In the olden days, the people are living in ignorance unknown to them that twins are blessing from God they abuse such blessing by condemning into osu, or killed. In addition to this, the researcher found out that there more other ways of becoming an osu. For a diala become an osu if he or she has sexual intercourse with an osu. Any freeborn who goes to the osu house and carries seat and sit on it he or she becomes an osu automatically, if a diala drinks from the same cup with an osu, he or she becomes an osu. Also, if freeborn barbs the hair of an osu, he or she becomes an osu. If any freeborn goes to an osu house and collect fire or break kola nut to an osu he will be made an osu. Any freeborn that marry an osu woman or osu men married a freeborn he or she becomes osu automatically.

Finally, the commonest and natural way to become an osu is to be born in osu family, when a person is born in osu family he will become an osu and subordinates himself to his osu group.

2.7      Summary of Literature Review

From the whole review, it has been understood that in Igbo origin, Osu cannot be traced nor be found. But the idea of the Osu caste system was traditionally motivated. However, we can see that Osu was man-made in the overview of the mysteries of the environment as deaths, epidemics, droughts, birth of twins babies and such likes were ascribed to mysterious supernatural forces of religion resulting in taking drastic inhuman measures as human beings and other beings to deities to appease and counter their actions. Where the origin of the Osu caste system among Igbos. However, it can be seen that the idea of the Osu caste system has been adulterated and this research work has the optimism that time and condition will wipe it out.



3.1      Historical Background of Oguta Amaeshi

Nwaosu in an oral interview said The land of Oguta Amaeshi is quite different from other parts of Oguta L.G.A. For instance, Amaeshi is one of the Autonomous Community among the 24 Autonomous Communities we have here in Oguta LGA. The Amaeshi land was discovered by a Hunter& Fisherman known as (ENEKE). In the 17th century he first settled at a place called Umuamiri Village in Amaeshi Community before he later went back to IDUU-NA OBA- IN OLD- BENIN KINGDOM- and some of his relatives, decided to follow him to Amaeshi his new location.1 As generation goes generation comes the land started growing both human developments, geographic and economic development- until the year 1976 when Imo State was created out of Old EAST CENTRAL States i.e. EASTERN (region) it becomes operative that from Agwu – Bonbe country council, OGUTA – ORU – Country council. A name shall be used as a local government area, so, because of how powerful and connected the Amaeshi people were they influenced other areas – then in the year 1991 – it was named as (OGUTA L.G.A). Ever – before the creation of (OGUTA L.G.A) the name was coined out from Amaeshi land, the Oguta area where under one L.G.A with OHAJI – Egbenne and Oguta L.G.A.

During that time Oguta was a district council. To crown it all, the History background of Oguta cannot be arranged in one document due to the fact that the L.G.A has many things that differentiate their existence or that made them not to be people of the same culture, tradition, language, and migration.

Amaeshi Land has about twenty-seven Villages – which include:

  1. Umuayala – Village
  2. Okicha – Village
  3. Ngegwu – Village
  4. Umundanike – Village
  5. Umunkwokomoshi – Village
  6. Umunduruowoku – Village
  7. Obutuu – Village
  8. Abatu – Village
  9. Umuopu – Village
  10. Ishiebe – Village
  11. Umudei – Village
  12. Umuanam-Village
  13. Umuigbo – Village
  14. Umuenu – Village
  15. Ogwuma – Village
  16. Umundeogwume – Village and others

While some communities in Oguta L.G.A also have their own Villages like the land of Amaeshi the way by which Amaeshi people (Oguta – 1) practice Osu is quite different from other areas in the L.G.A.

Therefore the part I want to stress here is that oguta (L.G.A) today has modernized the practice of the OSU caste, they also associate and tolerate them. Many of them can belong to the same associate with them, mostly in social, political, economic and traditional affairs. Thanks to God for the Advent of western Culture, Christianity and civilization in Oguta land, the OSU can – now freely hold the sensitive position we say Bravo – to civilization.

It might interest you to know that not all Areas or Communities on OGUTA L.G.A are the true sons and Daughters of the (ENEKE OF OGUTA Amaeshi who was the founding father and the oldest man who first settled in Oguta L.G.A, which is Oguta land – migrated from (IDUU NA – OBA) in Benin kingdom. The same man who married a woman known as (OMA) was the person who brought the culture and tradition that almost communities in Oguta L.G.A practice today, as I said in the passage, above, that some communities in Oguta LGA migrated from different part of the country and because of that Ransom they have different dialects from the general one. Because of civilization and population in the society today, Oguta L.G.A has over one hundred and eight-five thousand people, with about 24 Autonomous Community, the land was so Blessed with Milk and Honey, more especially the crude oil in the land. Now taken closely look at in fractional human development in the land – you can agree with me that the land is progressing and soonest it will reach to state statutes. In addition, let me mention the name of communities in Oguta L.G.A. they are:

  1. Aborshi
  2. Akabuo
  3. Awa
  4. Osemnoto
  5. Umuofor
  6. Umunwama
  7. Oguta Amaeshi
  8. Egbuoma
  9. Ejemekwuru
  10. Obeabor
  11. Ndiuloukwu
  12. Nkwesi
  13. Orsu Obodo
  14. Eziorsu
  15. Kelabari Beach
  16. Mbano
  17. Mgbele
  18. Nnebuku
  19. Ubaa
  20. Mgbala
  21. Obudu
  22. Uwaorie
  23. Umuofeke
  24. Umuigbo

In the light of this, I wish to emphasize that the name (Oguta L.G.A) was coined but from the name of that first settler who hails from IDUU –NA OZI – which Amaeshi people are predominating the name. In those days they used to be Oguta 1 and Oguta 11 because of the name of that man OGUU. Although – people today – thought that Amaeshi land is the owner of the L.G.A because the local Government Area Headquarter was sited there. Thank God that even the Amaeshi people are the number 3 in population.2

 Finally, with this brief history of Oguta Land, one can agree with me that it was a Local Government with different communities, cultural values, traditional beliefs and Areas of migration and not just a single Area.

3.2      Osu Caste System in Oguta

It has an established fact, today in Igboland that the term osu-caste have created a lot of crisis, problem, discrimination and break-up, in the society often time, it causes separation of spouse, dichotomy among families, villages, hamlets, married couples and breaking of homes, on this note the researcher regards the syndrome as an epidemic to the society. But due to different ways of its practice by some communities in the Igbo race one may be asking how this obnoxious ancient custom came in to real. Going by its practice and adoption in Oguta land, we might say that it has slighted different on quote.

According to Abiaziam, The Osu Caste System, throughout the Igboland cannot be traced or explain effectively without recourse to slave – trade. It was through slave trading in those days that our forebearers introduced the idea of using human being for rituals, worship or shrine, sacrifices etc.3 Though the people “OGUTA” did not hesitate in joining their counterparts in other areas of Igboland land to adapt the system, but civilized form, because OGUTA areas were civilized, as a result of that, their relationship with the (OSU-CASTE PEOPLE) was fairer than other areas. For instance, there are things the FREE-BORN (DIALA) would not like to share in common with the (OSU – PEOPLE) for example, marriage, common culture, title-holding, the headship of a family – ezeship and certain positions in the society.

Apart from that, the DIALAS always incorporates the Osu – caste people. Unlike other areas where OSU practices relationship is highly sacrilegious.

3.2.1  How osu came into Oguta land

Nwaosu argued that the history of (OSU – caste system) in Oguta land has no comprehensive report, but it depends on the areas that adopted OSU and when they started theirs in Oguta land, we have some areas where the system is adopted, areas like, Ojemekwuru, Izombe, Egbuoma, Agwa, Akabuo, Eziorsu, Orsuobodo Oguta Ameshi, and Umuofor, etc. In all these areas they have style by which they relate to the Osu – Caste.4

In this similar development, because the Oguta area is riverine, the merchandize always traces the river and penetrated the land in doing business, both red oil, palm kernel and as well as human trafficking. In no distant time, the European through some trade transaction entered the land, then they saw the activity going on there before they introduced a policy called RE-ENLIGHTENMENT CAMPAIGN PROGRAMME. Through this particular program, a good number of people got civilized and started modernizing relationships with fellow humans mostly the osu – caste. Also, the people of Oguta practice deities and shrine which led them to buy and abduct people they used as a sacrificial objects to those gods and deities. The children and offspring of the abductees and kidnapped victims where the people they called OSU – caste because they were bought for the purpose of worshiping idols and sacrifices. The free-born (Diala) declared discrimination and segregation among them from its inception to date.

3.2.2  The practice of osu in Oguta

According to Nkwesi, the Osu caste system has no human life lineage it depends on a community wish and desire. A community may desire to make a human sacrifice to the goddess of their shrine or juju. From there, they can go around looking for a person to buy or otherwise to make the offer to their gods. Whenever they get the person, they will make their sacrifice to their juju. They will give a sacrificed persons a mark on one of the ears with a knife either on the left ear or on the right ear. That mark will differentiate them from the community persons (man or woman) if the sacrificed a man first, they will endeavor to get a woman and give it to the man an increase and multiplications. The two couples will start to live together and rear children. There and then, they will be isolated from the common community people, both the father, mother and children will not marry from the community because they are outcasts.5 They will go outside the community to marry. They will not be initiated into Ozor title Ezeship and or local and state governments as representatives. Their life will be a life of regrets in the community. They cannot stand strongly before any person from the community because they are the outcast of the community. The community will not at all, marry them; no matter how beautiful their girls or women are or maybe. When any person from the out-casts (osu) dies the community people will not actively participate long before now, the community people will not go for the burial but nowadays, the revise is the case though not actively. Any person the community that marries their girl will be driven out of the community, the person becomes an outcast (osu) forever. Therefore no community people will take any of their girls/women to bed. Free community doesn’t farm on the same land with them, if they do it, they will use aborsi to make the boundary. Nowadays, the maltreatment of the osu has changed due to civilization and Christianity.

3.3      Caste System in India

The caste system in India happens to be one of the most rigid forms of stratification. The caste system can be found in a number of societies, but the most rigid, enduring and best known is that of India. According to Edokobi, “in Africa there are certain systems which even though do not qualify by the definition of caste do operate as the caste systems. To him, it is the rigid system of ethnicity which breeds avoidance as a classical case of this phenomenon. The Hindus in India practice the caste system and it is one of the hereditary social groups into which the society is divided.6

The most crucial factor in the India caste system is India of the untouchables. The groups who fall into the category of the untouchables are usually avoided by other members of the society for fear of pollution. Therefore, this sort of avoidance has religious significance and demands purification whenever a member of the higher caste touches the untouchable. Apart from this, the caste system is founded on strict endogamy and certain occupations are prescribed for members of certain caste.

The India caste system has been used in comparison with the social ranking in some African Societies. In fact, the OSU caste system in Igbo land has been viewed as a variant of the India caste system. In the classical case of this phenomenon, the researcher found out that Hindus in India practice the caste system as a hereditary social group into which the society is divided. Therefore, the researcher is of the view that this practice is the battle of supremacy which is demonstrated by the rich over the poor. The Indians have the untouchables and those who fall into the category of the untouchables are usually avoided by other members of the society because of fear of pollution.

According to Igbo and Anugwom, the Indian caste system existed in four layers. At the Apex was the Rajama or royal caste from whose rank administrators of the society were drawn. In other words, they were born to rule; following them in importance was the class of priests, teachers, judges who are called the Brahmans. Following the Brahmans and often accorded equal importance, was the warrior class or the Kshatriya; this class was occupied by the nobles and warriors who have distinguished themselves in the service of the society. Following this class was the Vaisya who were believed to have been destined to be farmers and merchants and who functioned in these categories. These four castes were occupied by the INDO – ARYANS who had conquered the aborigine groups in distant history. It was the Aryans who saw their race as a noble one that instituted the caste system in India in order to perpetuate their domination of the society.

Following these four noble castes was the aboriginal caste of sundras who were demoted during the ascendancy of the conquering Aryan race. The Sundras engage in manual work and little skilled artisan work. At the lowest level where the dark-skinned, tribal Indians referred to as the untouchables. They were meant for menial jobs & dirty drudging work. The caste system in India was legitimized and perpetuated by a religious doctrine that saw the noble castes is made up of people who were twice-born or reincarnated who enjoy privileges borne out of their diligence, commitment and devotion in past life. It preaches that those in lower rungs can be elevated in the next life, if they keep the law, respect the noble and live a devout life.

3.4      Caste System in the Bible Times

3.4.1 The Samaritans

Samaria is a city bought by the king of Israel, King Omri (1 kings 16:24). The Jews and the Samaritans have a relationship dated back to Jacob, from whom the twelve tribes of Israel descended. The kingdom divided into two in the days of Jeroboam, the South named Judah, having its capital at Jerusalem and North named Israel with its Capital at Shechem. According to the scripture in the Book of Ezra 4: 2; 9 – 10. Persia defeated Israel in 538 B.C. Both Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal brought in additional people from Babylonia and Elam.

The people intermarried with the remnant in Israel. The main cause of the problem between the Jews and the Samaritans was:

  1. They intermarried between the remnant and these Gentiles from Babylonia and Elam.
  2. The establishment of a Samaritan center of worship at Gerizim and the recognition of the five books of Moses, Pentateuch, as the only scripture, in (John 4:12), the Samaritans still claim the descendants from Jacob, but the Jews would not accept them as blood relations, calling them “cuthean”. They equally accused them of worshipping the idols of the Gentile people who had settled in Samaria (2kings 17:24, 30 – 32). The Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews in return.

3.4.2 Jesus views about the Samaritans

According to Obi, basically, Jesus accepted the reality that the mixed population of Samaria is not part of Israel. For him, the Samaritan leper was “a foreigner” in Luke 17:18. Jesus forbade his disciples to work among Samaritans and Gentiles (Matt 10:5, 6).

Yet, Jesus’ attitude was quite different. Jesus rebuked his disciples for their hatred toward the Samaritans “And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them? But he turned and rebuked them”. (Luke 9:54 – 55, RSV).

Also, Jesus showed love and care by asking the Samaritan woman for a drink from her vessel. (John 4:7). He healed the Samaritan leper (Luke 17: 16); used a Samaritan in humbling the Jews, as an example of a living neighbor who overcomes hatred (Luke 10: 30 – 37); and of the gratitude that was honoring to God. All these attitudes of Jesus was a proclamation of the eschatological turning point.

More also, the book of Acts of the Apostles marks the end of the segregation of the Jews towards Samaritans. Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into all nations. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts1: 8).

We can also see from the scripture that Philip, one of the disciples of Jesus, began his missionary work in Samaria (Acts 8: 4 – 25).

Obi said, “The introduction of half – casts into the saved community is an anticipation of the time when the strife about temple ends and the religious separation of the people is set aside because the true worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”9

In summary, the above analysis shows that the Samaritans, like the Osu, were a minority of people who suffered these spiritual and social problems of segregations and dehumanization. Jesus and the early Christians did not deny these facts but accepted them as historical realities. Nevertheless, the attitude of Jesus and the early Church towards the Samaritans has great implications for the Osu issue. As far as Jesus and the early Church were concerned, the Samaritan problem was ended. This has so much to say concerning the Osu problem. The Gentiles have a similar problem with the Samaritans. The Gentiles like the Osu were despised people. They have some spiritual problems (Christless and Godless) and social problems (stateless and friendless). The Bible including Jesus Christ and his apostles did not deny nor minimize the fact of the gentile problem (Ephesians 2: 11 – 22). Jesus reconciled the Jews and the Gentiles through the Gospel of Saint Paul. But the ultimate goal of this work was not only to reconcile the Jews to the Gentile “but to reconcile both to God”.


1Nwaosu, Timothy, Oral Interview, Age 40, Occupation, Barrister, venue: his residence at Umuokwu, time: 7.00 pm, 15th February 2016.


3Abiaziem, Innocent, Oral Interview, Age 73, Occupation, farmer, venue: his residence at Amakpu, time: 5.30 pm, 25th February 2016.

4Nwaosu, Oral Interview.

5Nkwesi, Vitus. Oral Interview. Age 79, occupation, A retired teacher venue, his residence. Time 12:00 pm 14th February 2016.

6Edokobi, A. C. “Social Stratification and Mobility” in N. Nnonyelu and Obiajulu (eds) Contemporary Issues in Sociology. (Enugu: John Jacobs Books, 1977), 56.

7Igbo, E. U. M. & E.E Anyanwom, Sociology: basic concepts and issues. (Nigeria: AP Express Publishers, 2001), 87-89.

8Obi, Sebastian M. How to solve the Osu problem: Diagnoses, Guidelines, Recommendation. (Agape Education Resources, 1994), 17-20.




4.1      Legal Implication of ‘Osu’ Caste System

           Nwadiaru, Nigeria’s constitution has no room for segregation of Osu. The law gave every member of the society equal rights and privileges. The law helps to checkmate an infringement of one’s duties. It is also stated that is illegal to discriminate against one’s fellow human being either socially, economically and culturally1.

           Again, Ejiofor said it is pertinent to emphasize that in order for peace, oneness, unity, progress which compromises the developmental progress and growth in Oguta L.G.A every harmful practice should be abolished and the golden rule should be adhered to by all and sundry. Do unto others what you wish should be done to you.2

           Furthermore, Obi quoting Ahamba, define “Freedom” “Equality” and “justice” Freedom means the ability to exercise one’s legal rights within the laws of the land, which must not be inconsistent with the constitution equally, ‘Equality “Means being given equal opportunity…, and not be discriminated against in the prolongation or implementation of any law…” and finally, Justice means ensuring that each citizen gets what is his due, and is protected by the state (the Nation) against any infringement of any of his human or citizenry rights.”3

This research work stands to support that certain rights are the entitlement of every human being because of his dignity as man-made in the image of God. For in God, there is neither Jew nor Gentile or Greek, for all are one and equal before God. And if we all are equal before God the right of the Osus to marry whoever they want to marry, should not be denied them. Right of association as full citizens of this nation, freedom of expression in terms of segregation during community meetings should not be infringed. Every human on earth has that right of equal treatment, social and legal right without any infringement by the so-called freeborn (diala) or whoever. For all beings are born free and equal in dignity and right.

           Furthermore, these basic rights are summed up in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human rights which proclaims, “That all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights that there is no justification for racial discrimination either in theory or in practice… The main elements of human rights include the Right to personal dignity, rights to equal treatment, social and legal, Right to marry whom you please or they remain celibate if you choose; Right to freedom from discrimination.

           Ahamba argues that “the only guarantee for the existence of freedom is a law, the enforcement of which ensures order4. Again, in line with the United Nations declaration and the constitution of Nigeria and considering the legal implication of the social problem, the Eastern House of Assembly legislated against the practice of osu, in 1956. Chapter 1:2 of the law reads:

Notwithstanding any custom or usage, each and every person who on the date of the commencement of this law is Osu shall from and after such date cease to be Osu and shall be freed and discharged from any consequences thereof, and the children thereafter to be born to any such person and the offspring of such person shall not be Osu, and the Osu system is hereby utterly and forever abolished and declared unlawful.5

In this case, the researcher came to know that, humanly speaking, Osu is unlawful treatment, it hurt and also creates enmity between the freeborn and the Osus in our communities, and therefore should be utterly and forever abolished. These are the legal implications of Osu practice in our society today. Osu, as a social problem, does not only have a legal implication, it also has economic implications.

4.2      Economic Implication of Osu Caste System

There is much economic implication of the Osu caste system.           The first derives from the apathy which the attitude of the social forces upon the osu. Naturally, “the typical response of

Alienated individuals are apathy” which is bound to weaken the group’s device and spirit of enterprise.

One sees this more fully, in light of the well-known derive of the Oguta and in Igbos in the sphere of economic activity adding to this, Obi quoted Uchendu’s Observation that the Osu “constitutes the greatest contradiction to Igbo equalitarian ideology… a people whose achievements are spurned by a society that is aggressively achievement-oriented.

            Furthermore, another economics implication is that of the destruction of both life and property resulting from communal clashes. There was a recent example at Emii, despite an earlier court-order restraining them from such action.6 Osu has economic implications which leads to a clash between the diala (freeborn) and the osu’s (out-caste).

Its economic problem leads to loose of human life, property and even rejection of community project because is located on Osu land. To the economic problem of Osu, the researcher made a contribution in support of obi’s observation. The researcher observed that same problem spring up between the Diala and the Osu in a community called Agwa in Oguta L.G.A the problem of land dispute and the problem of position in the community, causes a very big problem that leads to loose of human life and prosperities. It is most interesting that this problem was solved and became a ladder to end the practice of Osu in the Agwa community. The community king called the chiefs, Nze and Ozo titleholders, village chairman and chair ladies, the Osus and the freeborn’s and decides on the issue of Osus and they came, in conclusion, to share the Osus among each village and its kindred. This is how the issue of Osu died off in the Agwa community. The researcher, therefore, advises that the same measure should be used in other communities, to solve and stop Osu practice and that the government should make a law that any community found in this practice of Osu should be punished and their own rights of government entitlement should be withdrawn. Osu is not only a social problem but a psychological one.

Other economic implications of Osu caste system were enclosed in the characteristics of Ozo and Ogaranya which are among the economic social class of the Igbo people

Ozo:    This is another social class of the Igbo, they are those who control the government and politics of their village and are respected as men of distinction and honor. An osu person is never allowed to take the Ozo title. The zoo members are granted economic security, the old members benefit a lot from the high fees which the new members pay at the initiation.

Ogaranya:      Osus are distinguished from Ogaranya. Ogaranya is those who had some measure of worldly possession including many wives, children and slaves. According to Lemchi, Ogaranya is not a title it is a class. Ndi Osu was deliberately excluded from it by the deprivation of means to become Ogaranya. One becomes Ogaranya if he is a medicine man who prepares charms, and amulets worn in battles. Should those whom he gives medicines, charms and amulets return safely home, his popularity and influence increase because they reward with war captives which in turn enhances his economic position. Parents are willing to give their daughters in marriage to the Ogaranya simply to be protected by his influence. Ogaranya never pays the bride price for the so many wives he acquires. It uses to rare for an osu to be Ogaranya in the olden days.7

Furthermore, another opportunity that made people Ogaranya was trading. Big time traders at that time were mainly diala people. Big time trader uses the Osu people as “Ofo Ije” or security guides. This was the most important function the osu people performed in those days. The diala simply use him for personal and economic gains. Nowadays, osu people have regained their economic freedom and in fact, the own enterprises that even employ diala people as managers. Some of the well-known ogaranya we have in the Igbo nation today belong to the osu class. This goes to prove that human nature is universal. Given the equal opportunity, human beings can attain grate height regardless one’s racial or national origin, ethnic group, tribe or clan, the colour of skin, sex, language, dialect, religion, opinion or political belief, social class or status at birth.8

What the researcher found out here is that the Osu’s are denied of their social right of association in the olden days. Nowadays the reverse is the case.

4.3      Psychological Implication of Osu Caste System

            Osu has a psychological implication, Achebe shows the same conviction which he conveyed when he made Okonkwo say: “Osu is like leprosy in the minds of our people”. It should be noted that “leprosy” is in the mind. This research work will look at the psychological nature of the Osu problem in two dimensions.

The first dimension relates to the Osu themselves. Ezeala asserts that the osu, “are psychologically abused…” part of this psychological warfare is that the Osu “are hated and feared, treated as nothing and discussed with the tone of horror and contempt” these negative attitudes of the society “create negative feelings” which in turns “lead to feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and helplessness. The feeling of helplessness is increased by the Osu’s knowledge that he cannot do anything to change the osu’s knowledge, that he cannot do anything to change the societal attitude. Furthermore, another is the feeling of inferiority complex. This implication results in the osu expressing the attitude of aggression on the Diala (freeborn)9.

            The second dimension related to non-osu according to Obi “The Diala are held by a paralyzing fear of the osu. The greatest aspect of this fear is that of being ostracized by their community… but the point here is not that Diala is afraid of an Osu as a person, but of the Osu as a social taboo. This is the issue that is raised when people like Okonkwo ask “who will marry their daughters and whose daughters their sons will marry”.

            Again, he said the Diala is tempted to react to the Osu in the spirit of envy and jealousy. Envy has been defined as, “The bad feeling stirred up when one sees in his rival something which he lacks “But the irony is that while the society does not recognize the Osu, the envious Diala sees himself in an inferior position.10 To support these, Owerri showcase argues that the Osu problem is still with us till today because, “Many people are simply green with envy and jealousy at the achievements of their fellow mortals and finding no other way to put them down simple shrug it off saying “well, he’s an osu.”

This research work stands here to say that, the implication of this psychological problem on the part of the diala is hatred towards the osu and hypocrisy in his dealings. And the osu’s attitude of aggression towards the Diala.

4.4      Religious Implication of Osu Caste System

            In this context, the Bible which is one of the most viable sources of knowledge of God’s intention to mankind has shared categorically in the book of Genesis chapter one verse twenty-seven (Gen.1:27) reversed the standard version. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”             Again in the Book of Act of the Apostle chapter ten verse Nine to Sixteen (Act 10:16):

…And he becomes hungry and desired something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heaven opened, and something, descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, “Rise Peter; kill and eat”. But peter said, “No lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean”. And the voice came to him again a second time, “what God has cleaned you must not call common” this happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (RSV).

Therefore, both in the old and New Testament before God, all mankind is equal. Thus the inequality, segregation, division, injustice and maltreatment of some members of the community called Osu in Oguta L.G.A. Imo State and Igbo as a whole goes contrary to the original design and plan of God for creating man. The researcher points out that this problem of osu caste system, Christianity stands a legal chance to impact and solve the problem for the scripture says in the book of John 17:20-23,  Jesus said:

My prayer is not for them alone I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father just as you are in me and I in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me may they be brought to complete unity to let the world that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

The scripture shows that whether Osu or Diala we are now one and are serving one God and should live in unity and in love as one body in Christ, as Christians. And this is also the solution to this research work.

4.5      Ethical Implication of Osu Caste System

            Mgbeahuruike said, from the point of ethics, it is not right to see a fellow human being as inferior and less human. When we say that something or an act is morally right, we simply mean that it is generally accepted in all life both legal and religiously. In other words, for something to become morally right, it means that it is right and its rightness goes beyond every doubt. The Osu caste system is a segregation system a system whereby some people are being discriminated against. It is quite unethical and morally wrong to treat fellow as lesser beings, bearing in mind that all humans are created by God.

Therefore, they should be accorded equal treatments and respect without making some to feel inferior by castigating them, and giving them the derogating name “Osu: Their right should not be violated or infringe upon.11

            Thus, from an ethical point of view, this system is usually wrong and should be condemned. The ill-treatment measured out on the Osu forces most of them to commit suicide and they die untimely. Most of them are forced to embark on self-exile because of injustice and the discriminatory attitude of “Diala” most of them abandon their native homes and become fugitive in a strange land and at times dies of Isolation and loneliness without returning back to their root (Fatherland). Adding to these, Norbeck, said that ethics has to do with human behavioral conduct as religion does. It is a system of action and interaction among human beings. Rules of conduct for man in his relationship with other human beings exist in almost all societies as they must for man to survive.12

            To this research work, our actions through the ages have always been determined in important aspects by what man believes to be the nature of the universe and his place in it. The

the universe has nature which is the rule of conduct for man to follow in his relationship with his fellow humans for our societies to survive and not discriminate. And that is what this research work stands for. To the Igbos, it is believed that God, the earth goddess, and the ancestors gave moral order to people; the researcher believe that this moral order is not to segregate nor to discriminate against each other. Happiness is one of the uttermost goals of man in this case when we discriminate and infringe on certain people’s rights like the right of marriage, and association and their ethical right to have a sensitive position in our communities, it makes them feel unhappy. As Mbiti said, “So that they might live happily and in harmony with one another. Through this moral order, customs and institutions have risen in all societies to safeguard the life of the individual and the community of which he is part.”13

            This research work stands to argue against this belief, for if the earth goddess and the ancestors are in support of people to live happily and in harmony with one another, why should they demand the human sacrifice as an offering of human beings as Osu? And so making them an outcast (English equivocate). Therefore, this leads us to what Opara said, in his reasons for osu, “To have people who will help in serving the deity”. In other words, our Forefathers misinterpreted the consent of Osu when the gods demanded a human being to be sacrificed to it alive; it was for the purpose to help in serving it. For example in the case of the Levites in the old Testament. But very different in nature to the Igbo concept of Osu dedication. The Levites are set apart by God to minister before Him. They marry, interact and communicate with the people, they were never segregated against. Therefore the researcher saw that the Igbos are trying to follow the way, but went extreme, and their own was the negative side of it.

            The researcher opined that conduct that promotes smooth relationship or upholds the social structure is good, while conduct that runs counter to a relationship is bad. Therefore the researcher kindly advises that Oguta people and Igbos as a whole should run towards good conduct and to build a structure for a good relationship to promote the success and progress of her communities. More, to the researcher, ethics has to do with good conduct that promotes a smooth relationship of all human beings. Therefore, the conduct of the Diala’s towards the ‘Osu’ stands condemned by this research work. For morally speaking, since this practice infringes on the human right and freedom of some people and abhors while promoting injustices, therefore, the Osu caste system should be eradicated for the good of all.

4.6      Impact of Christianity and Modernity on Osu Practice

            Christianity and modernization affected the religious life in eastern Igboland. Christianity made a lot of impacts to bring a change to many of Igbo traditional beliefs. Such as the killing of twins, people’s attitude towards totem animals and sacred forest. Those totem animals were dedicated to specific divinities, likewise in someplace, certain fish in designated rivers or streams were involved. All these things are no more in practice due to the impact of Christianity and modernity. Also, the impact of Christianity and modernization and other related socialization has helped the increasing collapse of paganism in Igboland. On this ground, traditional religions have their hold on many Igbo families. For instance, Anyanwu said, “Among both fully convinced (and even outrightly, unconvinced) Christians, there is the common impact of history. That is many families do not have members who have direct socialization on the bases of traditional religion. Thus, for many families, traditional religion has become a faith system they hear or read about but hardly live by14.

This has further been strengthened by the various programs of adaptation and enculturation implemented by different Christian traditions, resulting in the redefinition and reformulation of practices associated with traditional religion in accordance with Christian beliefs and principles15.

            Another issue is the issue of the Osu caste system. But the Osu caste system is included in the impact of Christianity. The researcher proves that Christianity and modernization have made a lot of impact by her policies and principles to Osu practices bring it to zero levels for instance, Anyanwu said, “The advent of Christianity and other forces of westernization and modernization reduces the people’s belief in the religious basis of the attitude towards the Osu. This resulted in better attitudes of tolerance and communication with them.”16.

            This research work stands to say that even though some of these practices or discrimination against Osu’s has changed due to the impact of modernity, yet the church has failed in the area of marriage. One finds out that even when the Igbo were fully converted and filled with the word of God, they grip tight to this practice. Even as Green interviewed an earnest educated Christian pastor, he (the pastor) admitted that the Osu caste system was incompatible with Christian principles and are not recognized by the church, but he was emphatic that would not contemplate a daughter of his marring an Osu.

            Ike in his Book Toad for Supper told about the Osu system in Igboland. He enumerated how Akin could not marry Aduke the girl he loved most because she was an Osu and had to write her off thus:

Aduke you know as well I do. How much I love you. I could not wish for a better Girl as my life. My parents also have nothing against you as a person. The only fly in the ointment is that unfortunate aspect of your family which I have already referred to. As soon as members of my family made the discovery they insisted that I must break things off unless I wanted them to cancel the plans for my university education.17

Despite the fact that the parents of Akin were Christians Ike is telling us that it does not count when it comes to marring an Osu. The Osu caste also suffers some other forms of segregation disassociation and discrimination in Igboland. Durueke outline the idea position of an Osu in unadulterated Igbo community as thus:

  1. They could not sleep under the roof with the so-called freeborn citizens called Diala (owner of the land).
  2. They neither ate nor drink from the same cup with freeborn
  3. Marriage between the two was a taboo. Children were forbidden to see the corpse of an Osu.
  4. An Osu cannot be chief or leader of a village
  5. If the corpse of an osu was to be carried through the village of the Diala, Palm fronts were placed everywhere to serve as warning against danger.
  6. If an Osu had sexual intercourse with Diala woman, he will be given the woman free to marry.
  7. A Diala cannot run into the compound of an Osu.

This is the same and obtainable in Oguta, but today, only a few of these still persist with adulterations. Durueke also added that the osu can now marry or be married in a distant town where they are not known18. To support this, Odetola said:

Among the Igbo, in some parts of the south-eastern Nigerian known as Osu, the relationship between them (the lower group) and high or hereditary group is similar to that which obtains in India, however, the higher hereditary group government has also made it possible for some members of the Osu group to move upon the social scale19.

Thus, what Odetola et al are trying to say is that the Osu system in Igboland is gradually diminishing due to civilization and education. In the view or agreement to this, this research work stands to say that in Oguta now, osu is no longer what its, is dying off with its practices the only thing remaining for a freeborn (Diala) is to freely inter-marry with the osu. And with time, it will happen. Because, with the impact of modernity on the side of Christianity, education and government, there will be no trace of osu any longer.

Furthermore, in recent times attempts were made by the government and communities to abolish these practices. In 1957, Nnamdi Azikiwe, then-premier of eastern Nigeria tried to ban the Osu caste system in Igboland. He initiated a law approved by the eastern House of Assembly prohibiting the Osu system. So, these laws are for the freedom of every citizen and right of life.

            Therefore, modernity has made it clear for every individual to associate with each other. Beside, Opara in an interview said, “Because of freedom of association, people started to relate with an Osu. The people now have their life to live, and because of the modern age, people started abolishing the social caste called ‘Osu’ in Igboland. But abolishment of the Osu caste system is with caution.







1Nwadiaru, U. The Igbo Society and Caste System. (Aba: Assemblies of God Press, 1994), 12

2Ejiofor, E. The link to peaceful Co-Existence in Igbo Society. (NP: Spring field Publishers Ltd. 1994), 14.

3Sebastian, M. Obi. How to Solve the Osu Problem: Diagnoses, Guidelines, Recommendation.  (Nigeria: Agape Education Resources, 1994), 14.

4Ibid, 14

5Ibid, 14, 15.

6Ibid, 15, 16.

7 Lemchi, B.D. Osu na Ume: The Igbo untouchable Caste System. (Owerri: Milestone Publishers, 2011), 30.

8Ezeala, J.O. Osu Caste Lecture at Nekede Polytechnic. (Owerri, Imo State Nigeria, 1992), 1.

9Sebastian, M. Obi. 1994, 17.

10 The Osu Caper. (Owerri showcase 1, 1992), 6.

11Mgbeahuruike, R. The Ethical Challenges. (Rome: Urban University Press, 1989), 26.

12 Edward, Norbeck. Religion in Primitive Society. (New York: Hamper and Brothers, 1961), 70.

13 Mbiti, J.S. An Introduction to African Religion. (London: Heinemann, 1975), 36.

14 Anyanwu, U.D. Christianity in Igbo and Nigerian Society. (Nigeria: Uzopietro Publishers, 2013), 157.

15Ibid, 161

16Chukwemeka, Ike. Toad for Supper. (London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1965), 160.

17Durueke, C.O., Jan.13th 1985, 5.

18Odetala, T.O. et’ al. Man and society in African. (Ibadan: Longman Group Publishers Ltd., 1983), 71.





Chapter five of this work has to do with the summary, conclusion, and recommendation. It outlines some possible ways by which these Osu Caste System and its practices should be eradicated.

5.1      Summary

            This research project titled “social implication of Osu caste system, Oguta as a case study” is meant to find out the causes of the Osu caste system and the problems it has created in our society and to suggest some possible ways by which it could be eradicated in the Igbo society. The researcher stated some problems brought about by this practice which include discrimination in certain ceremonies, segregation, stigmatization and dehumanization in their inter-social relationship with the “Freeborn” in issues like marriage and in title taking and several other areas of life.

            The researcher is of the view that both the “Osu” and the “Diala” are all essential for the growth of the society. This is to say that, if they unite, live in peace, love and oneness, the development would gradually crawl into their society.

            The works of many authors who wrote on this topic were reviewed. People were interviewed and it was found out that, the (Dialas) can do things commonly with the (OSUS) meaning that, they are fed-up with the practice, but they are not fully to association with the Osus in terms of marriage. With this work, we will understand that the only possible way out of the cruel system is by establishing this concept that would help the two to see each other as one, for them to live in peace and happiness. The researcher’s view is that after reading this work, any emotional and humanitarian thinker would see the necessity to abolish this cruel practice called the “OSU’ caste system.                       

5.2      Conclusion

The Osu caste system is a man-made phenomenon that was used to solve some religious problems in the past, but the facts collected and the position of this contemporary society suggest that it has outlived its usefulness and so is due for complete eradication.

            The problem posed by the Osu caste system in the various chapter above, have been lingering from time immemorial. The problem here is the problem of restricting the Osu from getting married to the freeborn and vice versa and also another problem is making an Osu a chief or king over the freeborn even if they worth it. These two mentioned problems like social segregation stigmatization, dehumanization and enmity, do not only bring retrogression in areas of socio-cultural, socio-religious and socio-political growth of the society. It also hampers almost every other aspect of the socio development in areas where these systems exist.

            However, since a lasting solution to this problem has not been proffered, it became the duty of this project to proffer a solution to the alleged problem. The researcher views that the way out of the Osu caste system is to establish a mutual relationship and harmony to solve the problem or conflict of opposites. By so doing, it gives them (OSUS) senses of belonging. Thus this work proffers idea on how to dissolve this cruel practice. This background therefore, establishes the view that everybody is important and every body’s initiative whether positive or negative is needed for the growth and achievement of the society.

5.3      Recommendation

The issues of “OSU” cannot be left unsolved and no headway would be made if we overlook the constant rivalry between the diala and Osu. Instead of letting the sleeping dog lie as suggested by Durueke, we ought to begin a public debate on these sensitive issues with the expectation that a “universally” accepted solution will be reached soon.

The researcher wants to use this medium to advise those who still practice this obnoxious system to annihilate the idea or system called the Osu caste system and import the idea of togetherness, oneness, live in unity because with all these a communities would stand tall but with the method of division and segregation, any community is doomed to fall.

The researcher wants to use this medium to advise and suggest some possible solutions to this problem.

  1. Though the former legislation on the issue of the Osu caste system has not been abrogated, there should be more and more efforts geared towards the enforcement of the decisions reached.
  2. The appointment or coronation of an aspirant to any political leadership, chieftaincy, Ozo or Nze title should be by merit irrespective of Osu or non-Osu.
  3. The church should straightly fight against the Osu caste system and the priests and other religious leaders should make themselves pace-setters by marrying the Osu and giving their children in marriage to the Osu. They should realize the biblical injunction that they are the salt of the light of the world”. They should give up hypocritical acts and be to every extent monument of what they preach.
  4. The Osu caste system should be made a subject to all our school both primary and secondary and even the university level.
  5. The people affected should stop to reside in a particular place and should stop telling the freeborn (diala) that they are Osu in terms of marriage.
  6. Constant preaching against upholding it in various church denominations and to accept Christ.
  7. We should give them a sense of belonging by marriage, religion, academics and social group.
  8. Villages/Communities where this osu has been a practice, should bring the Osu and share them among themselves (diala) in agreement.
  9. According to the Biblical saying that “by one man, sin cometh into the world and by one man, also forgiveness is given unto salvation”. The Igbo society, in general, should understand this saying to mean that by traditional religion, the Osu caste system originated and by Christianity, the Osu caste system should also die a natural death. Since culture is dynamic, the Igbo society should understand, the change from a culture of inequality to a culture of equality which Christianity is propagating. The mediocrity in Christianity should stop and be completely replaced by what Christianity demands and what it stands for.
  10. The government should promulgate a decree prohibiting this ugly practice. Should one call another “Osu” or any community found still practicing this obnoxious practice, should be punished their rights and properties should be confiscated or imprisoned.

Finally, for Christians to strictly believe in the faith from Christ Jesus and work towards demonstrating love towards one another. For love covers all things. Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. With these, this unhealthy practice would be annihilated.

5.4      Suggestions for Further Study











Published work

Herbert Onyema Anyanwu, Africa traditional Religion from the Grass-roots: Reversed Edition printed and published by savior prints. (A Division of J&G company Nigeria. 2004).

B.D Lemchi, Osu Na Ume, The Igbo untouchable caste system, Milestone publishers  Ltd. (28 Erekwerenwa street Owerri: 2011)

Sebastian M.Obi, How to solve the Osu problem (Diagnoses, guidelines, recommendation) published by Agape education Resources, 1994.

U.D Anyanwu, Christianity in Igbo and Nigerian Society, printed and published by: (Uzopietro publishers, 2013).

E U M. Igbo & E.E Anyanwom, Sociology: basic concepts and issues. (First published in Nigeria by AP Express publishers 2001).

Achebe Chinua, Things fall apart(London:Heinemann educational Books. 1975).

Achebe Chinua, No longer at Essay. London: Heinemann Educational Books 1960.

Nwoga D.I. Nka na Nzere: The focus of Igbo world view, Ahajioku lecture (Owerri, Ministry of Information, culture Youth and sports) 1984.

Oraka L.N, The Foundations of Igbo studies: A short History of the Igbo and culture (Onisha: University pub-co 1983).

Afigbo A.E, The age of innocence, The Igbo and their neighbours in pre-colonial time, Ahiajoku lecture, (Owerri: Ministry of Information, culture, Youth and sports. 1986)

Norbeck Edward. Religion in primitive society, (New York: Harper and Brothers. 1961).

Mbiti J.S. An introduction to African Religion. (London: Heinemann 1975).

Mbeahuruike R. The Ethical challenges published; (Urban: University press Rome. 1989.

A.S Hornby, Oxford Advanced learner’s Dictionary 7th edition (New York: Oxford University Press 2000)



Uchenna Opara: Oral interview Age 45, occupation, a teacher

Venue: his residence, time 6:19pm October 2015.

Theophilus Duru: Oral interview, Age 80, occupation, a custodian of izombe cultural belief and ethics.

Venue: his residence, Time 6:19pm October 2015.

Vitus Nkwesi: Oral interview, Age 79, occupation a retired teacher

Venue: his residence, Time 12:00pm 14th October 2015.

Unpublished sources

Uche Bank .U. Socio-Religious implication of Osu caste system in Oguta, (A B.A Project work submitted o the department of Religious studies, Imo State university, 2012).

Ezenagu nwaemeka C, impact of Christianity on Osu caste system,(A B.A Project work submitted to the faculty of humanities, history, Imo State University, 1989).

Alaukwu Ifeoma Linda, the “OHU” system and social implications, A B.A Project submitted to the department of Sociology (Abia State University, Uturu. 1999)





Thereas Oguibe, Daily Times, april 21st, 1981.p.7

G.C Durueke, Sunday Times, January 13th, 1985.p.5.

Secret Books

Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Genesis 1:27

Revised Standard Version, Acts 10:9-16

Revised Standard Version, John 17:20-23