Thứ Tư, Tháng Hai 28, 2024
HomeArts + CultureNigeria’s traditional Osu slavery practice was stopped, but the suffering continues

Nigeria’s traditional Osu slavery practice was stopped, but the suffering continues

There are international efforts to battle fashionable slavery, however a couple of conventional techniques nonetheless hang sturdy in west Africa. Those come with Osu, Ohu and Trokosi.

The Dialog Africa’s Godfred Akoto Boafo spoke to Michael Odijie who has researched probably the most techniques – Osu – and what will also be performed to in any case put a forestall to it.

What’s Osu?

Osu is a conventional follow within the Igbo region, in south-eastern Nigeria. Prior to now, Osu concerned dedicating folks to native deities, “remodeling” them into slaves of the gods. Despite the fact that such dedications now not happen, the descendants of previous Osu be afflicted by discrimination and social exclusion.

Traditionally, there have been several ways an individual may just turn into an Osu. Some had been bought as slaves after which devoted to native gods, both to compensate for against the law dedicated by way of the buyer or to hunt the help of the deity. A person may reach the standing of an Osu thru delivery if considered one of their oldsters was once an Osu or thru voluntarily in search of asylum, thus assuming the Osu standing. For instance, all through the transatlantic slave industry, many selected this trail: they might run to a shrine and commit themselves, to keep away from being offered. As soon as devoted as an Osu, they had been in most cases ostracised from Igbo communities, but concurrently seemed with worry, noticed because the slave of a deity.

Every other commonplace technique to turn into an Osu was once thru marriage to an Osu, resulting in power marriage discrimination even these days.

The unfold of Christianity, which happened swiftly a number of the Igbos within the 20th century, discouraged the follow of worshipping native deities. The ancient follow of Osu has ended.

Alternatively, a brand new type of discrimination has taken its position, focused on the descendants of the ones traditionally recognized as Osu.

Some of the vital kinds of fashionable discrimination happens within the realm of marriage. Freeborn folks, who haven’t any Osu lineage, are typically prohibited from marrying any person of Osu lineage. Will have to they accomplish that, each they and their offspring completely turn into Osu, going through the similar discrimination. This discrimination has a profound have an effect on at the social and emotional lives of many Igbos of Osu lineage, specifically the ones of marriageable age. It may be difficult for them to discover a partner.

Every other type of discrimination in this day and age is social exclusion. In Igbo villages, Osu reside in segregated quarters and are barred from social interactions with freeborn group contributors. They face limitations to gaining access to positive public facilities, attending group occasions and collaborating in communal decision-making processes.

Their descendants also are limited from conserving particular influential positions within the Igbo village energy construction, such because the Okpara (the oldest guy within the village) and the Onyishi.

How prevalent is Osu and the place is it practised?

G. Ugo Nwokeji is an Igbo cultural historian who studied slavery within the Igbo area. He estimated that the Osu represented 5%-10% of the Igbo inhabitants. With an ethnic inhabitants of about 30 million Igbos in Nigeria, this implies that between 1.5 and three million Igbos be afflicted by this discrimination.

The majority of Osu are present in Imo State, which has about 5.2 million other folks. However they’re in each and every different Igbo-dominated state as neatly: Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia.

Why has it been a problem for governments to finish the Osu follow?

In 1956, Nnamdi Azikiwe, then the premier of Japanese Nigeria and later the primary president of Nigeria, spearheaded the passage of a law aimed toward abolishing Osu and its social disadvantages.

However the follow endured. No arrests had been recorded. Osu is deeply rooted in custom, creating a purely felony way inadequate.

One reason getting rid of discrimination has been tricky is that figuring out an Osu is somewhat easy for Igbos. They incessantly live in their very own distinct quarters. Subsequently, merely citing one’s village or circle of relatives title can divulge one’s Osu standing. This case is a results of a mixture of Igbo tradition and colonial coverage from the Twenties. Throughout this era, folks of slave foundation started to say themselves, and the British colonial reaction was once to segregate them.

What different approaches must be attempted?

A brand new abolition motion is gaining momentum within the Igbo area of Nigeria, fuelled by way of social media. This has enabled in style consciousness and advocacy, making a extra powerful and inclusive discussion concerning the Osu device.

Probably the most main teams on this new motion is the Initiative For the Eradication of Traditional and Cultural Stigmatisation in Our Society, a community of campaigners led by way of Ogechukwu Stella Maduagwu.

Recognising that the Osu device is incessantly considered as having religious importance, the initiative puts better emphasis at the recommendation of cultural custodians, together with conventional rulers. As a result, it has advanced a “type of abolition” that comes to session with cultural figures, comparable to leader monks representing the deities, in Igbo villages. The usage of this type, the organisation effectively carried out an abolition rite within the Nsukka region of Enugu State.

Every other main campaigner is Nwaocha Ogechukwu, a pupil and researcher specialising in non secular and cultural discrimination. He has established a platform named Marriage With out Borders to lend a hand younger individuals who face marriage discrimination because of being labelled as Osu. In collaboration with non secular leaders, he supplies counselling and strengthen to these affected by the opposed results of the program.

A problem for the rising motion is its localised way. With out a technique that encompasses all the Igbo area, campaigners are not able to collaborate successfully or have interaction in a unified, sustainable effort. This factor arises from the varied genealogies of the Osu and the loss of a unmarried conventional Igbo authority.

Because of this, the motion has discovered it tricky to realize in style traction. It continues to have a village-level focal point.

We suggest that the motion align itself with broader human rights campaigns inside of Nigeria, throughout Africa and across the world. The Osu device bears resemblances to Ghana’s Trokosi system. The marketing campaign to abolish Trokosi completed notable luck as a result of its message resonated on a countrywide point, garnering strengthen from global activists.

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