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Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System - Culture - Nairaland

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Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Ctorch: 5:17pm On Nov 14
Nnewi traditional Stool is Hereditary and not by Election –Igwe Nnewi

I abolished Osu caste system so their pretty women would marry – Igwe Nnewi

Obi of Otolo and Igwe of Nnewi in Anambra State, Igwe Kenneth Orizu, speaks to TONY OKAFOR about the abolition of the Osu caste system in his kingdom, among other issues

You have been on the throne since 1963; did you ever imagine that you could serve for this long?

No, I didn’t. It’s the grace of God that brought me this far. I didn’t expect this long reign. I thank God for his grace.

Being on the throne for so long, do you sometimes get bored or feel your lifestyle has become monotonous?

I have not felt bored since I ascended the throne. Initially, it was hectic but with time I set up committees that have assisted me to do the work of the kingdom seamlessly.

You are from a privileged background as your uncle, Nwafor Orizu, was a senate president and your grandfather was said to be the first man to drive a car in the old Eastern Region. What are the fond memories you have of your childhood?

Orizu 1 started his reign around 1905. No one dared to see him with your naked eye. He moved mostly at night if he was travelling to far places, for instance, when going to court in Onitsha because that was the only place the court was then. They were four monarchs that attended Onitsha court in those days – he, Obi of Onitsha, Amobi in Ogidi, and Idigo in Aguleri. There were very few monarchs then.

There were no vehicles then so he went to Onitsha by a shoulder carriage (palanquin) carried by 16 able-bodied men. Four men would start and when they got tired, another four would take over and they would continue to take turns until they got to Onitsha after some days. Once they got to Onitsha, they would carry him to a guest house and he would rest to attend court the next day by 9am. After the court proceedings, he would return to his guest house again and rest till 8pm when he would begin the journey back to Nnewi. Nnewi monarchs never travelled during the day in those days to avoid being seen by ordinary people. It was taboo to see Igwe Nnewi with the naked eye in those days; seeing him with the naked eye attracted sanctions. He went on night journeys with his retinue of bodyguards who rang the bell to warn people to steer clear because Igwe Nnewi was on the road.

Nobody would dare come out otherwise they would be conscripted and sold as slaves or made to become one of the wives of the monarch if she was beautiful.


At a point, going to court in Onitsha became tiresome such that his subjects bought a motorcycle for him. However, he didn’t use it for a long time because of the inherent danger it exposed the Igwe to. So, they considered buying a car for him. That was how money was raised and given to some persons that went to Lagos and bought a Ford car for him.

When the news of the new car spread, the white Resident Officer in Onitsha visited Orizu in Nnewi. The white man observed that the car had no number plate and licence to enable the monarch to drive it without being disturbed on the way. He promised to help Orizu get his vehicle registered by establishing a licencing office in Onitsha. That was how a licensing office was established in Onitsha and my grandfather was issued a number plate that read: Onitsha 1.

As a young man, you worked with a group of newspapers, what did you enjoy most about the experience?

Yes, I worked with the Outlook Newspaper in Enugu. But in the course of my job, I was posted to various places such as Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Asaba, Sapele to establish Outlook offices. I did that diligently and sales and readership improved for the outfit in most areas where the newspaper was previously not known. I enjoyed the sense of dedication and punctuality I passed on to workers. I made them come to the office by 5.30am instead of 8am to distribute papers to vendors.

You were said to be instrumental to the clearing of Agbedo forest in your domain, what significance or problems did this forest have?

Edo Nnewi was one of the deities in Nnewi which the people worshipped as a god. It was a female deity. Deities ruled Nnewi then while Obi was their link with the people. They relied on the deities to determine what would happen. It was when the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was Governor of Eastern Region that he suggested that the Agbedo forest should be cleared. He wrote a letter to me to see how Nnewi town could start. I agreed with him but told him that since the Agbedo was jointly owned by the community, the other Obis of Nnewi should be consulted, including the priests of the various shrines.

Before then, you dared not enter the forest, otherwise you would die. When the decision to clear the forest was taken and the date was fixed, everyone was afraid to enter the forest because they were afraid that if they tried it, they would die. I was at home on that day because I had another engagement to attend to. Some four men were delegated to meet with me because everyone was afraid to be the first to start clearing the forest. They said the entire town had assembled for the clearing of the forest and were waiting for my endorsement. I gave them approval to go ahead with it but they still waited for me. When I got there, I had to start the clearing first after praying, before they now took over. There were so many dangerous animals there, including lions, reptiles, and leopards, but all of them ran away and only tortoises which could not run were left. Eventually, everything went well.

You were said to be one of the first traditional rulers in Igboland to abolish the Osu caste system, what challenges did you face that opposed the move at the time?

Nobody opposed the move. If there was any opposition, they didn’t come out to state it publicly. Till date, I’m still being commended for abolishing the caste system. I abolished the caste system because it didn’t have any value, in my opinion. In the old days, our people castigated them – those regarded as Osu. The story dates back to the old days when people found guilty of abominations were cast away to avoid the anger of deities. If any of such persons slept on the same mat with you, you became an Osu automatically. You would not sit on the same seat with them, otherwise you became an Osu. That was how they were treated and abhorred.

But with the advent of civilization, the practice became laughable, especially after the Agbedo was cleared which now became one of the largest markets in Anambra. Part of the forest was also meant for the Osu people. After the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, there was a dance Osu girls came out with. It was so attractive that after the dance, many of them were impregnated by the so-called non-Osu people because they were so beautiful. Not only that, these same beautiful women were branded Osu in the day, but at night, many people would go for them. I thought that was outright deception. I told my people that the deceit must stop. By the way, who did God create and call Osu? It was man-made. So, it was largely because of those beautiful women and the obnoxious conditions they were subjected to that made me abolish the caste system in Nnewi to enable them to freely marry. And shortly after the abolition, many of them started getting married. We don’t have any problem with that again in Nnewi. We are one.


You discouraged wasteful spending at funerals and traditional marriage ceremonies, why?

I looked at the way we conducted funerals here; it was associated with wasteful spending and was affecting the people, so I thought something must be done about it. I made consultations and we decided to cut everything down to the barest minimum. Today, you can hardly see any funerals in Nnewi with wasteful spending. If anyone violates the rules, there are attendant sanctions for that. We collectively achieved the feat, so nobody is complaining about it.

Ofala Nnewi is a cultural festival organised annually to celebrate your coronation and it must be done without fail, what does it entail?

Ofala Nnewi was a white man’s concept. He probably borrowed it from the Onitsha area. Like I said earlier, the naked eye was not allowed to see the Igwe Nnewi in the beginning. If you were a man and you dared try to see him, you would be sold as a slave and if you were a beautiful woman, you would be automatically given to the Igwe as his wife.

So, the whites didn’t like that Igwe was not seen by his subjects. He suggested to Igwe Nnewi to have a day in the year when he would make a public appearance to interface and interact with his people. That was the origin of the Ofala festival here in Nnewi. It was an opportunity for the monarch to meet with his people and interact with them and for them to pay homage to him.

If it is not celebrated in a year, what implications will that have on the kingdom?

If there are exigencies, Ofala can be postponed. There is no implication whatsoever on the kingdom by so doing. I had once cancelled Ofala celebration here, nothing happened. But that was the only year it was not celebrated since my reign in 1963.

The Igwe of Nnewi is born and not made or elected, unlike many traditional stools in the country; can you share some of the other peculiar things about the throne?

Out of the four quarters in Nnewi, Otolo is the head and it’s the one that produces the monarch, traditionally and customarily. Our forebears put it that way and it has been kept that way and it will remain so. The ascendancy to the throne of Nnewi monarchy is by birth and not by election. Whoever is the first son of the monarch succeeds him upon his death, unless he does something grievous against the people and custom of the land. This practice is known to everybody in Nnewi. It’s enshrined in the Nnewi Constitution.

There are four Obis in the four clans that make up Nnewi and you’re the most senior of them. How would you describe your relationship with the others?

My relationship with the three Obis is cordial. We work together and we relate well in the overall interest of the community.

Apart from Ofala, what other festivals are significant to the history of Nnewi and its people?

We have festivals like Igba Ota, Igbu Ichi, Ikwu aru, and Igbu Ichebili. Most of these festivals, however have been stopped because of modernisation.

What are the things considered as taboo for the people of Nnewi and others who live in or visit Nnewi?

We don’t eat ‘Eke’ (python) and women don’t climb palm trees in Nnewi. Also, women don’t pluck kola nuts. We don’t eat ‘Ewi’ (local rabbits) because of the historical relationship we have with it.

Are there things considered as taboo for you as the traditional ruler of Nnewi too – things that culture does not allow you to do?

The Nnewi king does no wrong.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced on the throne?

There are several of them. I was not born the same way others were born. I was a child of circumstance. There were no childbirths in this kingdom before my mother was married because of a certain woman that was allegedly maltreated and who later died; people were marrying but did not have children. It was when the woman was appeased that my mother got married and gave birth to me. But she died mysteriously shortly after. It was suspected that she might have been poisoned out of jealousy by her other wives who were married before her but had no children. That’s how my life began. That history guided my growing up and made me humble. I had two ghastly motor accidents which nearly took my life. The first time; I was in a Mercedes Benz car bought for me by my people. We were coming back from Lagos when the car somersaulted twice and at the third time, turned upside down. But I came out unhurt. The second time; I was on my way back from Abuja when a large vehicle knocked ours off the road and into a ditch.

What do you miss most about your old life; that is, before you became a traditional ruler?

Early, I started staying away from women. In fact, their lives pissed me off. I only had a girlfriend when I lived in Calabar (in Cross River State). I sat the Standard Six Certificate examination there. Calabar had a stadium where festivals were held and it also served as a cinema. She liked us to attend such festivals together. She would book for our tickets. When I came back to Nnewi, during my students’ union days, I ran into another one who requested money from me to buy a photo album. I told her I didn’t have money and the relationship ended there.

So, in the real sense of it, I didn’t have a girlfriend the way people have girlfriends these days. I lived in Kano and had no girlfriend. All I did as a youth was to take care of myself, cook for myself and read. I had no business with women. Unfortunately, this generation is funny. Today’s men are milked dry by women. When you give them money, your energy and time, you are wasting and killing yourself gradually.

Nigeria recently celebrated its 60th independence anniversary, what biggest changes have you noticed over the years – positive and negative?

I’ve yet to see anything worth celebrating in Nigeria. It’s unfortunate that Nigeria can’t produce pins and razors as small as they are. If they produce them, I’ve yet to see them. We rely so much on imported goods, yet we keep boasting that we are the giant of Africa. I have yet to see any positive changes in this country. Nigeria has not met my expectations.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/punchng.com/i-abolished-osu-caste-system-so-their-pretty-women-would-marry-igwe-nnewi/%3famp=1

Photo of Obi of Otolo and Igwe of Nnewi in Anambra State

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by DamZik: 5:20pm On Nov 14
It will remain hereditary until one crazy governor wants his commissioner or a friend to be there. By then, you will remember this post. This Zoo is a lawless jungle.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:22pm On Nov 14
DamZik:
It will remain hereditary until one crazy governor wants his commissioner or a friend to be there. By then, you will remember this post. This Zoo is a lawless jungle.

Both the Governor and the commissioner will die before their time.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by DamZik: 5:28pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:


Both the Governor and the commissioner will die before their time.
Till then. I can conviniently convince you that wicked people don't die before their time. They live long to perpetuate their wickedness. Many examples abound in the scriptures and in this contemporary life.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:30pm On Nov 14
For thos saying Igbo enwe Eze and there Rubbish propaganda.

This is a testament that Igbos have kings before the arrival of the white man


As for the caste system, I reserve my comment.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by IamWonderful: 5:32pm On Nov 14
Ok
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:32pm On Nov 14
DamZik:
Till then. I can conviniently convince you that wicked people don't die before their time. They live long to perpetuate their wickedness. Many examples abound in the scriptures and in this contemporary life.


One person can't cook for the people, If people cooks for you then the person is done.

The tradition of years is what one idiot will try to meddle in, then the death of the person is near.

Not happening both now and then.

14 Likes 1 Share

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:46pm On Nov 14
IamWonderful:
Ok
Lol,

I understand, you are been ruled by Emir.
Pele

1 Like

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by OfoIgbo: 5:46pm On Nov 14
Nnewi monarchs were crowned by the Nris. I wonder whether that practice is still going on

1 Like

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:51pm On Nov 14
OfoIgbo:
Nnewi monarchs were crowned by the Nris. I wonder whether that practice is still going on

You are talking trash.
That never happened....

1 Like

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 5:55pm On Nov 14
OfoIgbo:
Nnewi monarchs were crowned by the Nris. I wonder whether that practice is still going on


Originally when the Igbos or Ibos settled in the present day Eastern Nigeria, they arrived with three leaders, two were spiritual leaders and the youngest of the three a hereditary King known as Obi a King by birthright. The first was the Eze Nri of Awka a Priest King, the second the Eze Aro of Arochukwu a King and the third the Obi of Nnewi a political and war ruler. The Obi of Onitsha was well qualified to become an Obi being disputably the first among the two sons of....


The Aros know this history (Nnewi being a relation and a leader among the Igbos) and this is part of the reason why there are no Aro settlements in Nnewi.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by peacekante: 5:56pm On Nov 14
Can't believe this system still exist

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by SpecialAdviser(m): 6:09pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:


Both the Governor and the commissioner will die before their time.

Die? Lol. Please wake up. Nothing is impossible in today's world.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 6:12pm On Nov 14
SpecialAdviser:


Die? Lol. Please wake up. Nothing is impossible in today's world.


Totally impossible. Oke adia eri Ife onye mu anya..

It will be a fight to finish and every ancestors must send such generation to extinction.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 6:13pm On Nov 14
peacekante:
Can't believe this system still exist

Do I blame you.

You are practicing a system where the father will be alive and the son will become king.

Abomination.

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by SpecialAdviser(m): 6:14pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:



Totally impossible. Oke adia eri Ife onye mu anya..

It will be a fight to finish and every ancestors must send such generation to extinction.

lol again. Did you read where the king said they cut down the forest after people have been afraid to die?
Nothing will happen bro. If the Igwe doubt it, let him meddle in mainstream politics. People will be bribed to change the custom.

4 Likes

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by helinues: 6:15pm On Nov 14
Nice one Igwe

Long live
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 6:19pm On Nov 14
SpecialAdviser:


lol again. Did you read where the king said they cut down the forest after people have been afraid to die?
Nothing will happen bro. If the Igwe doubt it, let him meddle in mainstream politics. People will be bribed to change the custom.

Not possible and not situation with the community.

Moreover he has always bare his mind on Politics.

Listen when such should have happened was when the white men wanted to crown another king during their arrival as they did to others but the person/people refused and made it clear their kingship is hereditary.


Such was when it was easy to depose kings but not here the people have the resources to fight such rascal that will rise to disrupt the tradition of the people.

If there are no resources to fight you then it would have been a different ball game.

Never...

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Rugaria: 6:21pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:
For thos saying Igbo enwe Eze and there Rubbish propaganda.

This is a testament that Igbos have kings before the arrival of the white man


As for the caste system, I reserve my comment.
Few igbos not all. My town had no stuupid eze. The one there now was an offshoot of the warrant chief nonsense
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Juliusmalema: 6:25pm On Nov 14
Rugaria:

Few igbos not all. My town had no stuupid eze. The one there now was an offshoot of the warrant chief nonsense


Lol

This is harsh..tone down and moreover I believe there must be an "Obi" back then.
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Rugaria: 6:34pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:



Lol

This is harsh..tone down and moreover I believe there must be an "Obi" back then.
Yeah, there was/is an obi. Normally some warrant cheifs then were picked from that hierachy I guess
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by gidgiddy: 6:40pm On Nov 14
peacekante:
Can't believe this system still exist

The Osu cast system was one of those primitive, fetish practices of the olden days. Its more or less now dead

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by OfoIgbo: 6:52pm On Nov 14
Rugaria:

Few igbos not all. My town had no stuupid eze. The one there now was an offshoot of the warrant chief nonsense

According to the NRI people, only 66 Igbo towns had monarchies before the coming of the white man. All of them were NRI lineages that left NRI many ions ago

Most towns were administered by the Nze na Ozo society, which was established by the Nris also, and at times , a council of elders

2 Likes

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Rugaria: 7:02pm On Nov 14
OfoIgbo:


According to the NRI people, only 66 Igbo towns had monarchies before the coming of the white man. All of them were NRI lineages that left NRI many ions ago

Most towns were administered by the Nze na Ozo society, which was established by the Nris also, and at times , a council of elders
Have you thought about how effective it will be to modernise the Nze na Ozo society, the Ûmûada grouping, Ndi ichie, the age grade and others into effective administrative tools that can be used to run a modern state instead of all these foreign terminologies they burden us with, such as, the Senate, the house of representatives, etc. "Offor" can easily replace the "Mace" in legislative gatherings and will command more awe and fear..

18 Likes

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by scholes0(m): 7:04pm On Nov 14
Juliusmalema:
For thos saying Igbo enwe Eze and there Rubbish propaganda.

This is a testament that Igbos have kings before the arrival of the white man


As for the caste system, I reserve my comment.

The one you are supposed to comment about gangan you no comment

Na comment wey no follow you dey talk about.
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by Driggs: 7:04pm On Nov 14
German machine just for you!!

click this thread to see spec. price and details..

https://www.nairaland.com/6256226/fresh-registered-mercedes-benz-c300

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by paulolee(m): 7:04pm On Nov 14
Seems the post is for those dt believes in marriage... As for me n my friends, na baby mama sure pass..
D eldest of us dt proved sturbbon n got married February last year, told us in our usual end of d month gathering last month dt he gat d feeling dt his first son isn't his, we advised n directed him to do D.N.A test on dt kid, he said his wife is against it n he is scared to do it secretly..
Hard man back den kum de form simp bcoz e marry one beautiful slay qween..
We jus ignore am, maybe na wen he don train anoda man kids finish uni naim e eyes go Clear

2 Likes

Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by CoolAndClean(m): 7:04pm On Nov 14
T
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by seyicodes(m): 7:04pm On Nov 14
Okay
Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by DragonFire442: 7:04pm On Nov 14
Is this system any different from what Buhari is practicing in Aso Rock ?

Where they feel certain groups of Nigerians are more special than others

Igwe go to Aso Rock and teach that wicked Aboki equal rights and justice

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Re: Igwe Kenneth Orizu: Why I Abolished Osu Caste System by kingsavage: 7:05pm On Nov 14
Osu tribe..
Spits!

3 Likes

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