REVIEW: Love & Stigma: The Outcast System - By Sir (Chief) Adolphus Ekejiuba, KSJI.
The Outcast System is a practice whereby some people are treated as lower class humans. This gave rise to the existence of two main classes of people in the areas where they are practiced: the Freeborn and the Outcast. This occurs in Africa and India, and perhaps in other parts of Asia. In Igboland in Nigeria, where the system is practised, the outcasts are called Osu. The culture in this area made it an abomination for the freeborn to have any intimate relationships with them. It was forbidden to marry across the divide. The outcasts could not hold some traditional titles and were never appointed Traditional Rulers. These fell apart for Sir (Chief) Adolphus Ekejiuba, KSJI. when he saw blood donation by an outcast. The thoughts as to who would use the blood he donated bordered him. After many years of reflections and applying Scientific, Religious and Sociological knowledge, he concluded that the Outcast System is baseless, as it was instituted in ignorance and being perpetuated in ignorance too. To illustrate this, he told the pitiable, but moving, love story with which he demonstrated what would happen if a freeborn tries to marry an outcast.
The book presents a thorough analysis of the outcast system as Sir Adolphus knows it. It sheds light on what the outcast system is and what it is not. It presents the arguments which made people continue to practice the outcast system. It also presents many logical and incontrovertible proofs which cancelled out all the reasoning that tended to support the practice.
After reading this book, Sir Adolphus Ekejiuba's statement that ignorance is a far worse problem to the society than poverty will be very obvious. This book will make the readers worldwide, especially in those areas where it is practised, to abandon the outcast system by their own volition, without coercion or force of law. This is The Outcast System Elimination Project!
INTRODUCTION & INSIGHT - In the words of the Author: Sir (Chief) Adolphus Ekejiuba, KSJI.
The Traditional Igbo Society in Nigeria is made up essentially of two classes of people: “Diala” (the freeborn) and “Osu” (the Outcast). As Diala, myself, I was brought up to see the Osu as lower class humans who were not worthy of mixing with. Our tradition and culture made it an abomination to have any intimate relationship with them. It was inculcated in me to distance myself from them and not to marry from their stock. They could not hold some traditional titles and were never appointed Traditional Rulers in communities. To date and to the best of my knowledge, no freeborn has deliberately married an outcast. I held to these principles until something stirred my senses in my teenage years. Reflecting on the present world, I see these people as being denied their fundamental human rights. In fact, their condition is a form of modern slavery!
By the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights … and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Also, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. ...” Mutual respect is therefore vital to achieving this. Where a group of people are set aside and so brazenly discriminated against is therefore unacceptable. Such is the case being practised in a part of Nigeria, in some other African countries and in India, where humans are classed as Freeborn or Outcasts, with the outcasts considered as lower class and discriminated against.
Looking at the processes by which people became outcasts in my own area, it is very clear that they have nothing to do with human genetics or anything that is inborn in man. They were completely artificial and man-made, driven by ignorance and superstition, hence there is fear factor associated with it also. What we know today makes us believe that those superstitions and fears are baseless and of no consequence. In this day and age, we therefore cannot afford to watch and do nothing.
As a teenager, I observed blood donation by an outcast in my School in 1965. The thoughts as to who will use the blood he was donating bordered me a lot. I took quite some time, in fact years, to reflect on that. Putting my knowledge of Science, Religion and Sociology into use, I was able to convince myself that the Outcast System is baseless as it was instituted in ignorance and is being perpetuated in ignorance too. This is one of the reasons why I have always said it that ignorance is a far greater problem to the society than poverty. After fifty years of the reflections, I had the confidence to put pen and paper together to let other people know what I know that gave me that conviction about the Outcast System.
As previous efforts to stop the Outcast System did not succeed, this logical write up, using undisputable facts, is aimed at letting the reader know what the Outcast System is and what it is not. I have presented extensively the various arguments as to why it continues to exist and why it should cease to exist. As an illustration, I told the pitiable story of what would happen if a freeborn tries to marry an outcast. As such, after reading this book, people will surely make up their minds to abandon the Outcast System: a decision not influenced by coercion or by decrees!
To complement this book, movie producers are encouraged to come forward to produce a movie based on it. Also, a documentary based on it will go a long way to give more extensive and in-depth discussion of the subject. These visual aspects will enhance getting an overview of the project. Translation into Igbo and other languages is desired.
The herculean task before me is to get the book to the youths who are the ones to implement the abolition of the system. Most of them, in the areas where this System is prevalent, cannot afford the book from the shelves. My plea, therefore, is for support from organisations and good spirited persons to sponsor distribution of copies of this book for free or at highly subsidised price to children and youths, especially in those areas, through their Schools, Worship Centres, Town Unions and Youth Centres. To assist in this regard, I have initiated The Outcast System Elimination Project which will be coordinated by the Adolphus Ekejiuba Foundation, an NGO earlier set up to fight restiveness, laziness, ignorance and disease especially among our youths but with extension to the society in general. Please support us!
Sir (Chief) Adolphus Ekejiuba, KSJI.
For more on the book and the Adolphus Ekejiuba Foundation See - The Book And The Foundation