The Meqausho started on the lowest rung of the caste ladder in the ancient Veshiri society of Lokmei. Lokmei castes had six official divisions: Ojabi (nobles, officials, bureaucrats, and royals), Bideli (priests, healers, and doctors), Viami (scholars, scientists, and teachers), Deagibi (warriors and guards), Nijaki (farmers, artisans, and traders), and Ikotabi (servants), with the Meqausho considered to belong below the system itself. The Meqausho are considered unclean, due to an association of jobs that involved death, animal parts, bodily fluids, meat, and carnality as spiritually polluting. Executioners, leather workers, street cleaners, tanners, night soil workers, butchers, undertakers, sex workers, and their descendants are all rolled under the 'Meqausho' heading.
DemographicsThe Meqausho made up 19.8% of Lokmei's population as of the last census. They are primarily descendants of the Abusu, northern nomads who settled in the area as much as twenty three thousand years ago, and transformed their traditions of hunting, herding, and leather working into professions to support them in their new home. However, some are descended from those who were already working in stigmatized positions which, back then, were merely lower class and undesired, since the caste system hadn't formalized yet.
HistoryThe Abusu came to Lokmei around twenty three thousand years ago, after their northern steppes began to cool down and dry out and disease raced through the herds that had previously been their lifeblood. They pushed out of their ancestral homeland, some going East, some West, some heading over the tall Damadu Mountains to their South. Beyond the majestic peaks lay a land unknown to them, largely cut off from the outside world except for the occasional wave of nomads. Some came as raiders, tainting the reputation of the majority who came as new neighbors. The Abusu were viewed with fear and suspicion, and many cities banned their entrance - which was fine by them at first, as they had little wish to trade their peaceful steppes for the noise of the city. The Abusu settled in bits and pieces in other communities, gradually integrating themselves. They found a market hungry for their leather and bone working skills. When the caste system was established twenty thousand years ago, the Abusu, other 'unclean' races, and any who had the misfortune of working a stigmatized job, were all painted with the Meqausho brush. Conditions weren't bad at first, limiting outrage, though some of the Abusu led minor rebellions or joined raider groups, remembering their not-too-distant heritage. However, over time, statutes were passed limiting marriage outside castes, restricting and then banning caste mobility, segregating castes into separate schools, legalizing segregation of - or outright refusal of service to - Meqausho in businesses, and then banning the Meqausho from using the public commons. Conditions improved only barely when unification came. Officially, the caste system was abolished. Unofficially, the designations were changed and many of the laws remained on the books. There has been a concerted effort in recent years to improve the status of the Meqausho, led by activist Uhud Bihai Kebdabo. So, too, have there been efforts to smuggle the Meqausho into more accepting areas - sometimes elsewhere in Veshiri, though often to other planets entirely, in defiance of laws and customs restricting the caste's movement. The planet of Tedav especially has proven sympathetic to their plight, the government itself investing in bringing migrants to its land. Tedav is notable for holding many of the Meqausho professions in high esteem, and has particularly found itself with a need for skilled undertakers after a recent surge in the undead.
Major language groups and dialects
Many speak Jigali, the predominant and official language of Lokmei. However, they retain their own slang, much of it the distant descendant of the original Abusu language.