Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Markets in Igboland

Igbo Markets and Market Days

Igbo market with fruits and vegetables

Igbo market with fruits and vegetables

There are outdoor markets everywhere in Sub-Sahara Africa. Open-air markets take place in every village and town among the Igbo people. But major markets take place on a rotation based on a four-day week.

The Igbo week is compos.ed of the four days Afor, Oye, Eke, and Nkwo. In my husband’s town of Nanka, our major market is Afor. The location for that market is even named for the day – it’s called Afor Udo.

Some towns are named with their market day as part of the name. Ekwulobia, a large town near Nanka, has its market on Eke. My sister-in-law lived for a time in the town of Nkwerre. Their market is Nkwo.

Nkwo market in the town of Oraifite

Nkwo market in the town of Oraifite

People may also be named to commemorate the day they were born. Nwoye is the child – nwa – born on Oye. When you meet someone named Nwafor you know immediately she was born on Afor.

I wrote about my blogging schedule and visiting markets a few years ago. You can see that post here. I posted a challenge question then, asking readers if they knew why I posted on a four-day schedule.

David Koren who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria, like me, answered correctly in the comments. He said, “The four-day cycle is for the four days of the Igbo market week!”

And he named the days. He used Orie instead of Oye. This is one of the differences between Owerri Igbo and Onitsha Igbo. People using one understand the other most of the time, though I often have difficulty with Owerrri Igbo words.