Osu: The Genesis

By: Sir Temple Ogueri Onyeukwu

A summary of some of the sources of the Osu caste system in Igbo land include but not limited to:

  1. Families who had twins instead of being killed and allowing the twins to be killed ran into the evil forest and became Osu, thereby saving the life of the twins and the parents.
  2. Families that had babies born with long hair instead of allowing the parents and babies to be killed, ran into the evil forest, became Osu and thereby saved the life of the baby and the parents.
  3. Persons who were to be sacrificed to the long Juju of Arochukwu decided to run away to the evil forest to save their lives.
  4. People who were being sold as slaves and had the opportunity to escape, ran to the evil forest and became Osu.
  5. The powerful traditional rulers banished people who were opposed to slavery and slave trade and they became Osu.
  6. People who were to be buried alive or sacrificed to be buried with a powerful dead traditional ruler, where they had the opportunity, they ran to the evil forest and became Osu. Once you are in the evil forest you are now referred as the property of the deity, an outcast, untouchable.
  7. It was an abomination for a child to have his upper teeth come out before the lower tooth. The child and the parents are ostracized and they became Osu.
  8. It was an abomination for a child to come out of the mother’s womb with his legs instead of the head. The child and parents were regarded as cursed by the gods and must be sacrificed or ostracized. Where the parents choose to be ostracized instead of being killed, they became Osu and banished into the evil forest.
  9. Children who had sickle cell and members of the family continue to die prematurely were regarded as cursed by the gods and were ostracized and became Osu. They were ogbanje and when later medical science improved. The problem was identified.
  10. Any opposition to the Juju priests and the traditional institution was sacrilege and the offending party must be ostracized and cast into the evil forest.
  11. The traditional ruler and the powers that be, did everything to satisfy their deities including human sacrifice. Those ostracized were expected to die in the course of days or weeks. When they did not die, they were regarded as cursed and compelled to worship and serve the deities in the shrines.
  12. Some powerful slaves who were to be buried alive to appease some dead king had to run into the evil forest to save their lives; once they manage to run away, they were banished for life and became Osu.

In all the above circumstances, the traditional institutions forbade anybody from the community from marrying or having any sexual relationship or associating with them or their offsprings in what ever means, it became an unwritten law that if you enter the house, marry, eat, buy or sell, participate in the burial or naming ceremony, take shelter in the house when raining, touch, shake hands, embrace, eat with, or do anything by whatever name called with an Osu, you automatically become one and automatically ostracized by the traditional institution and by extension the community.


Do you have twins in your lineage? Are your parents outspoken against the evils in the society? Did your ancestors have the guts to tell the traditional rulers the truth even when it hurt them and their interests? Do you know of a family with sickle cell children who kept dying due to lack of adequate medical knowledge and/or facilities? Did your forefather refuse the king, Eze, Obi, Igwe, Chief or whatever name they were called any request? Were your ancestors ever involved in land dispute with the powers that were i.e. the traditional rulers? Did your ancestors oppose human sacrifice? Did they oppose slave trade? Did they attempt to protect the oppressed in the society against the wish of the traditional rulers? Did you attend the same school with Osu and sat in the same class? Have you ever gone to the same market or church with Osu? Have you ever been under the same roof with an Osu? Have you attended any meeting with Osu and/or have any communication with Osu? By the wicked culture and tradition that prevailed then, you automatically become an Osu. So, in a family, you find some children who qualify as Osu and are ostracized while others from the same parents don’t. Albinos had it worst. By this, it therefore means that everybody in Igboland today is an Osu. So why discriminate against the minority? What an irony!
This castigation of our brothers and sisters through oral tradition must stop. THIS FATE IMPOSED ON THE MINORITY GROUP BY THE THEN POWERFUL CABAL OF VICIOUS IDOL WORSHIPPERS WHO RECKLESSLY OPPRESSED THEIR MINORITY KITH AND KIN, PRACTICED HUMAN SACRIFICE, KILLING OF TWINS AND SLAVE TRADE MUST STOP. Say No to Satanic, Obnoxious, Wicked, Inhuman segregation and discrimination in Igboland.

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