How Eke, Oye, Afor And Nkwo Nigerian Market Days Were Introduced In Igboland
While in Nigeria we discovered that there were certain days that the Market weren’t open. My sister and I assumed that it was Sunday and even Saturday. Oh no it’s much more complicated that!
Here’s the story (Source):
It was during the reign of Eze Nrijiofor I 1300-1390AD, the fifth Eze Nri in the line of succession. One day during his reign, four strangers came to visit him at his palace. When they arrived, these four wise men or ‘magi’ pretended to be deaf and dumb. They did not say their names or their mission to Nri. Each of them carried ‘nkata’-basket known as “Abuokpa”.
They asked for water to wash their hands and faces; and took the kola nuts that were presented to them. After chewing the kola nuts, they gave the King ite ano-four earthen pots and directed him to keep the pots in front of the Nri Menri shrine outside the ‘obu’-palace, with each pots facing the sun. ‘Eke’ who was their spokesman, told the Eze that the first pot was owned by him, ‘eke’, the second one by ‘oye’ the third by ‘afor’ and the last by ‘nkwo’. He told the Eze that the four pots were sent down from ‘Chukwu’-God Almighty. He instructed the Eze that he and his people whom he ruled should be observing those names daily as market days, during which they should be buying and selling. These market days are used in Igboland to count the native weeks-‘izu’, months-‘onwa; and year-‘aro’. Therefore, Eke, Oye, Afor and Nkwo (four market days) make one ‘izu’-week. He also instructed him that the first name that should be given to their male children should commence with ‘eke’, then ‘oye’, ‘afo’ and ‘nkwo’. That is why we have igbo names as Okeke or Nweke, Okoye or Nwoye, Okafor or Nwafor, and Okonkwo or Nwankwo. In the same order, female children should be given “Mgbeke”, “Mgboye”, “Mgbafor” and “Mgbankwo”. The message was preached throughout Igbo land by spiritual priests of Nri and they set up market squares in Igbo land.
Check out a few snaps from our day below and you can watch video footage here.