OSU IN A CONTEMPORARY IGBO SOCIETY: A CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL EVALUATION

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OSU IN A CONTEMPORARY IGBO SOCIETY: A CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL EVALUATION

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CONTEMPORARY IGBO SOCIETY

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page ——— i

Certification ——— ii

Dedication ——— iii

Acknowledgements ——– iv

Table of Contents ——– v

Abstract ——— vii

CHAPTER ONE

Background of the Study—— 1

Introduction ——– 1

Aims and Objectives ——- 1

Clarification of Terms —— 2

Scope Of Study/Methodology—– 2

Division of Work ——- 2

Endnotes ——– 4

CHAPTER TWO

Background of the Igbos —— 5

The Historical Origin of the Igbos —– 5

Political System Of The Igbo Society—- 6

The Economic System Of The Igbo Society— 8

The Social System Of The Igbo Society—- 8

The Religious Belief In Igbo Society—- 10

Endnotes ——– 14

CHAPTER THREE: The Origin of Osu in Igboland

The Historical Origin of Osu—— 16

The Rights and Privileges of an Osu—– 20

The Marriage of an Osu—— 22

The Funeral of an Osu—— 24

The Social Image of an Osu—— 25

The Relationship Between the Freeborn and Osu— 26

The Effects of the Belief in Osu—– 29

Endnotes ——– 31

CHAPTER FOUR: Theological Response to the Phenomenon of Osu

4.1Old Testament ——- 33

4.2New Testament——- 34

4.3The Church Position on Osu—– 36

Endnotes ——– 41

CHAPTER FIVE: Recommendation and Conclusion

5.1Recommendations ——- 42

5.2Conclusion ——– 45

Works Cited——– 47

ABSTRACT

This study examines an agelong social phenomenon Osu Caste system among the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria. It investigates the origin and its persistence. Inspite of the overwhelming presence of Christianity in the area, many Christians pay lip service to the eradication of Osu Caste system. Not until something drastic is done, the phenomenon will persist. This study investigates the matter along Christian theological teachings. Painstaking efforts was taken to get information on this study.

CHAPTER ONE

1.0BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

1.1INTRODUCTION

In the Igbo society, there exist the slaves and the freeborns. These slaves are seen as outcasts and are called Osu while the freeborns are called dialas. This inferiority and superiority arrangement has generated conflicts. We live in a society where Osu is considered unclean and should be avoided at all costs. Even though the Osu caste system is condemned by many, the attitude still lingers in the heart of the people. This is reflected in the people’s relationship to the Osu’s in the areas of business, politics and social undertakings. This study investigates the phenomenon of Osu in the light of the teaching of the Christian religion which is dominant in the area.

1.2AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

Basically, the aims and objectives of this study are:

To shed light on the Osu caste system in the contemporary Igbo society.

To investigate the myriads of taboos that surrounds an Osu.

To examine the social economic, political and religious impact of Osu caste system in Igbo land.

To proffer solutions to the challenges of the Osu caste system.

To see if the Osu belief has basis in the Christian scriptures.

1.3CLARIFICATION OF TERMS

Osu: Victor C. Uchendu defined Osu as a cult slave, a slave who has been dedicated to the services of the dedicator’s deity, whose descendants are also Osu, be the dedicator, an individual, extended family or lineage.1

Caste: The Collins Cobuild Advanced Dictionary of English defines caste as “one of the traditional social classes into which people are divided in a society.2

Freeborn: The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines freeborn as “one not born as a slave”.3

Stigma: The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines stigma as “a mark of disgrace”.4

1.4SCOPE OF STUDY/METHODOLOGY

The method used in this study is historical and analytic. The study will employ oral interview which is its primary source and books, journals, articles, internet material which will constitute the secondary sources. The study confines itself to Osu caste system as it exists in Ibo society.

1.5DIVISION OF WORK

This work is divided into five chapters, chapter one deals with background to the study, under which we have the Introduction, Aims and Objectives, Clarification of Terms, Scope of Study and Methodology as well as Division of Work.

Chapter two borders on the Historical background of the Igbos which consists of the Origin of the Igbos, the Political, Economic, Social system of the Igbos and the Religious belief of the people.

Chapter three borders on the origin of Osu in Igboland which consists of the Historical origin of the Osu, the Relationship between free born and Osu, the Rights and privileges of an Osu, the Social Image of the Osu. Effects of the belief in Osu, the marriage of an Osu and the Funeral of an Osu.

Chapter four focuses on the Theological Response to the phenomenon of Osu and under this chapter we would examine what the Old and New Testament says about Osu and the position of the church on it.

The entire work climaxes in the fifth chapter. In the chapter, Recommendations are made and the paper is concluded.

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