Haggling is an art! To live in an African society with it’s rowdy markets, you need to perfect the art of haggling over goods.
Recollections of days spent traipsing after mother or grandma at the market, trudging from pillar to post haggling over goods in order to get the best bargains makes me smile.
It was never a straight journey!
Purchases were made in-between hundreds of greeting exchanges.
These grown women would hug, chatter, ask about the entire family and their well-being, exclaim over the incessant climb in the price of goods, natter about the latest African prints fabric, discuss their next meetings and what have you, while you stood patiently with the basket waiting for that conversation to be over, only for another encounter of another auntie to occur down the line where yam tubers were sold.
The haggling dance between the seller and the buyer was one done in camaraderie.
A piece of yam tuber would be lifted, passed from the buyers one hand to the other to check how weighty, inspected to ensure that it was still fresh and when mother was satisfied with the selected yam piece, the pricing war begins with “how much?”
This could go on from one market stall to the other and the basket on your head got heavier with the items purchased.
On a good day, your assistance would be rewarded with some boiled groundnuts, fried puff-puffs or something little to nibble at.
Please do remember not to grumble when the haggling is going on otherwise, you might be rewarded with a proverb that says “a child carried on the back, does not realize that the journey is very far.”
For today’s quote, I shall leave you with these African proverbs:
“Life is like shopping in the market, when you finish your purchases, you go home.”
”One does not throw stones in the market square, because you don’t know whose head it might break.”
”Marriage is like eating groundnuts in pods! You have to crack it to see what is inside.”
I have totally enjoyed reminiscing over these proverbs for the past couple of days Oba all thanks to you.
I invite these awesome bloggers to feel free and share some quotes:
Ego Ọne? Ikem asks. Picking up and dropping several T shirts from the pile of bend-down select clothes heaped on a tarpaulin on the market floor.
Hah! I don tell you say na N200 only! Replied the man with the bell.
Bros, abeg!I wan buy 2 or even 3 sef, if you fit commot something. Ikem haggles and they eventually settle for N120 each and he happily pays for the three that he chose, clutching his black nylon of new apparels with a bounce in his steps, he leaves for Mama Nwamaka’s canteen.
A plate ofhot ‘Garri and Onugbu soup’ with some ‘Show Boy’ and a bottle of ‘small stout’ is just the thing to set his World right today; he has more jingle in his pockets from a few days of work than all the previous weeks put together.
Preceding market days have been grueling but more rewarding. It seems the approach of Christmas has triggered off a flurry of more business and lots of off-loading of bags of garri and gallons of palm-oil has enriched him more than carrying baskets for housewives and their wares.
Some of these women came for their weekly shopping armed with scorpion stingers on their lips and taking out the grouch from their homes on unsuspecting recipients.
The last one had nagged and haggled that he was charging too much, that he was almost tempted to ask her to carry the things herself.
“Is it not just from here to the bus-stop, or are we going to ‘Ibagwa’?” She harassed.
”Carry that thing well o.” ”Hah all this shaking, my oil will pour o!” She went on and on.
”You are going too fast!” “I cannot keep up with you, she argued!” Whilst stopping to greet every single market woman that crossed her path and Ikem stood with her weighted load on his head.
Such women were very trying, but he needed all the money he could make.
He wants to buy several new items and to replace his worn out rubber slippers. Occupying his mind with happier thoughts of the jeans and canvas that he will purchase soon, he tunes out the shrewish woman’s voice.
A belly full of good food and a glass of palmy later- Mama Amaka had fresh supply and he couldn’t resist the intoxicating aroma of fresh palm-wine. It is not every day that you could get an authentic bottle that is not watered down. He hurries back to hustle for more customers.
A few more bags of rice and basket carrying for market late-comers, it is time to go home.
It appears like a throng or water-fall of humans. Everyone rushing to get done and go home.
Ikem is happy with the days events and as he jostles along with the crowd, an unexpected shove from the back has him turning around to lambaste the pusher, only for the ensuing shouting chant of ‘Ole! Thief o!Onye Oshi!’ rings out in the crowd.
The pusher happens to be a wily young pick-pocket who was trying to make away with a woman’s purse. Out of reflex Ikem hot-foots after the escaping thief along with a several young men.
The crowd impedes the pick-pockets movements and he is nabbed a few yards away and beaten to an inch of his life.
It takes the pleading voices of some concerned women to save him from being pulped to death.
Jungle Justice! Quick to be meted out when the culprit is caught; especially among the poor culprits.
Ikem ponders on this issue as he makes his way home. Wondering why a young man would choose to bargain with his life over a paltry sum of Naira. The culprits face is one of those idling chaps that he sees around the market.
To be continued.. You can read the first part by clicking the link in red ink above!
Quick Glossary for words that you may not know:
Ego Ọne – How much is this?
Hah! I don tell you say na N200 only! – Ah! but I told you it is only 200 Naira (note that it is expected to haggle over price in the market)
Bros, abeg!I wan buy 2 or even 3 sef, if you fit commot something – My brother please! I want to buy 2 or even 3, only if you can reduce the price.
Bend-down-select: A heap of mixed used clothing where customers literally bend down to scrounge through the pile and select an item they want to buy.
Mama Nwamaka – Nwamaka’s mother. Nwamaka is a native Igbo name that means, ”the child is beautiful, the child is good” There are derivatives such as Amaka.
Garri- A popular West African meal made from Cassava tubers.
Onugbu soup – A type of soup which is peculiar to the Ibo’s. It is made from bitter-leaf vegetable and a thickener of coco-yams.
Show Boy also known as Kpomo or Kanda – These are processed cow hide eaten as meat. It is regarded as a delicacy.
Small stout also known as Odeku – This is a dark beer made from roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast.
Ibagwa – Ibagwa is a community located North of the great University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
‘Ole! Thief o!Onye Oshi!’ – The three words mean the same thing: Ole is Yoruba for thief, and Onye Oshi is Igbo for thief. It is not uncommon to mix English with broken/pidgin language and another tribes language.
Palm-Oil – a reddish – yellow butter-like oil which is derived from the fruit of the oil palm. It is used as edible cooking fat and also for making soaps, candles and cream.
Palmy – a shortened name for Palm-Wine, which is an alcoholic drink made from fermented palm sap. It is used in major traditional occasions in Igbo land such as Traditional titling occasions, Traditional weddings, burials, child naming ceremony and general entertainment.
The posts that I would like to share because they spoke to me:
When great trees fall: This poem from Maya Angelou featured by JoHanna Massey’s blog spoke loudly to me. Almost felt as is Maya was talking about her demise ”in my mind” because she is indeed a great tree. This is my first time of reading it.
Evening Chuckle: Nutsrok does know how to bring the mirth out of me. She offers rib-cracking laughter each time 🙂