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Edo Women
 

A  MARKET

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From the time immemorial two type of marketing existed in Esan
There were

(a) SILENT TRADE:
This went on practically in every village, and all along the streets, particularly in front of houses having a wide ready access, articles of trade like soap, coconuts, pepper, groundnut etc. were exposed for sale; they were divided up, each division being sold for OGBOLO (twenty cowries, the smallest denomination of money then). The seller might be miles away, working in her farm; alt she did was to come in the evening to collect her money with the articles that had been unsold. In those days when people believed in the power of straight forward departed spirits, the justice of the Okoven and the sure destruction by jujus, the moral code was high. The woman exposing her articles for sale merely placed a piece of IDIGUN (god of Iron) in the centre of the container and went her way knowing the respect for this juju would produce the same result as if she was sitting there to see there  was no cheating. A buyer coming along knew according to sizes that each portion cost Ogbolo; so he or she took what he or she wanted and dropped the equivalent in cowries. It was easy and honest trade - sparing both the seller and the buyer the usual noisy harangue over even the smallest sale. With Esan not just losing beliefs in juju, but through dishonesty that grows civilization, any seller today trying silent trade by which our grandmothers prospered would  get  the Idigun itself being sold to scrap-metal dealers.

(b) OPEN MARKETS:
In those days of terrible intertribal wars when might was right, markets as they exist today were unknown. There was the EKIOLELE - small markets in the village square. As to be expected only members of the village could attend such markets. It would be suicidal for a woman to leave her husband’s village at Uromi, for instance, to attend a market at Irrua or Ubiaja. If she attempted it, she might, if lucky, be caught and made a wife of the captor, otherwise she would be sold to slave dealers. In many places therefore the markets were small, primitive and held under trees surrounded by bush to make escape easy in case of raiding slave traders.

Establishment of Markets:
Two villages, usually bound by Okoven, deciding to have a common market, would come together round about the Okoven, to clear a piece of ground; if they were lot already bound by Okoven, they took the oath of friendship and faithfulness, and the market was established fixing a day for it and also fixing prices at ludicrously low rates to encourage people to attend.
With the gradual cessation of the destructive tribal wars, order crept into Esan life. Markets grew in each of the big districts and to prevent chaos, the leaders had to meet. Fixing of the various market days was one of the few reasons that brought the individualistic Enijie together in the olden days. It was easy to see that with two nearby towns putting their market on the same day neither would have sufficient attendance to grow or have good trade, hence the Enijie had to meet to so arrange the days that only towns that were so far apart that they could not attend each other’s market in any case, held their markets on the same day, e.g Ekpoma and Ugboha on the same day while Irrua, Ebelle and Ubiaja had theirs on the same day. Neither of the combinations could draw the other. Sometimes, a migratory set of people continued to hold their market in their new home on the same day as was done in the original home. Examples of this are to be found in Ekpoma and Ekpon, Irrua and Opoji - (as close as they are!)

Principal Market Days in Esan:
It will be seen that real thought over prevention of friction was given by our forefathers in arranging the market days in Esan.

1ST DAY OF THE WEEK:
Ekpoma, Ihore, Okhuesan, Ugboha, Igueben, Ekpon etc.

2ND DAY
Irrua, Opoji, (the nearness did cause trouble!), Ebelle, Ubiaja, Ohordua etc.

3RD DAY:
Uromi, Iruekpen, Ewohirni (Ofuri), Emu, Ogwa, Amahor

4TH DAY: EDE IZELE OR EDE OWO OR EDE EKEN:
Ewu, Illushi (Ojigolo), Igor, Ewatto, Ughegun. Ewossa, Egoro, Amahor Waterside.
Each market from the above arrangements was held every four days, that is

EVERY FIFTH DAY. Night markets have never been known in Esan. Even after the tribal wars, the distance between the towns was such that night markets could have been quite impracticable. All markets, as now, were held during the day. The large ones were attended as early as possible while markets in the smaller and poorer areas were attended later in the day; while Ekpoma and Uromi markets were already full by 11 a.m., Ugboha people start going to the market round about mid-day. But most markets began at about 10 a.m becoming full by mid-day; by 2 pm. people began to disperse for home and by 5 p.m. it was nearly over.

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