Market days and bustling squares have long been the heartbeats of communities, serving not only as centres of trade but also as vibrant hubs for social gatherings and cultural celebrations.
Throughout Nigeria and Africa, the market square was more than just a place for commerce; it was where people came together for enjoyment, reunions, and leisure. On these special occasions, locals adorned themselves in their finest attire, turning market days into festive events.
In a time before the English or Gregorian calendar with its twelve months, market days served as the most accessible form of scheduling. For example, one could plan a wedding for “four market days from now.” In the eastern region of Nigeria, these market days were known as Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo, representing the ancient marketplaces of Igbo land.
Back in the 1980s, Benue State introduced the Benue State Market Calendar, an initiative led by the Ministry of Finance’s Statistics Department. This calendar provided the weekly schedules, names, and locations of all the markets in Benue State. Nearly every household had a copy of this calendar, eager to stay informed about upcoming market days. Each market gained recognition for specific products and foodstuffs that were more affordable there than elsewhere. For instance, if you were seeking yams, Zakiabiam or the Obagaji market were your go-to places.
Garri was a bargain in Ugbokolo or Allan Akpa markets, while Ojije Market was the preferred choice for plantains and water yams. According to Solace Agi of GbgegeTV, a yam tuber in the Zakibiam market could be as low as N200.
In a telephone conversation with AkweyaTV, a regular patron of many weekly markets, David Shamange, revealed that some products are cheaper in specific markets.
“To enjoy tax-free purchases, you must register with a group known as the “Abaranda” Union. This group has direct access to local traders and can sometimes pay for products before they arrive at the market square,” he stated.
With hopes of reviving the Benue State Market Calendar, see below the days and locations of some of Benue State’s economically vibrant weekly markets.
- Akpagher Market: Every sixth day, in Gboko Local Government, for your soybeans.
- Zaki-biam Market: Every Saturday in Ukum LGA.
- Ugba Market: Every Wednesday in Logo Local Government.
- Allan Market: Every Wednesday in Akpa District, Otukpo LGA.
- Otobi Market: Every Friday in Otobi Akpa, Otukpo LGA.
- Ugbokulo Market: Every sixth day in Ugbokulo, Okpokwu LGA.
- Obagaji Market: Every Saturday in Obagaji, Agatu LGA of Benue State.
- Ojii Market: Every six days in Ado LGA.
- Idokpo Market: Every six days in Ado Local Government Area, known for red oil.
- Eke Market: Every seven days in Okpokwu LGA.
- Ikpayongo Market: Every fifth day at Gwer East Local Government Area.
- Igbo Market: Every five days in Gwer East LGA.
Join us in celebrating the vibrant tradition of Benue’s weekly markets, where culture, commerce, and community converge.