I was in Eke Awka(the most popular market in Awka, the capital of Anambra State, Nigeria) last weekend to make few preparation for the coming week to avoid much stress of buying and buying this coming week. I really did not know what struck me, but I decided to take few pictures of the sellers in front of the market while inside the keke. When I viewed the pictures, I discovered it captured mostly women selling food stuffs. When I got down, I took my time to go round the market, I looked around and discovered that the food stuff area was filled with lots of women calling out buyers, some were already tired and feeling sleepy which is evident of no customer amidst the hot sun.
I said to myself, these woman have various reasons for been here. While I made my purchase, I tried to be interactive with these women. One told me she was a housewife, not having anything doing just sleeping every day and one day she decided to speak to her husband who was a roadside mechanic that she wanted to start a business. Her husband encouraged her but told her he had no capital to support her. However he inquired what she wanted to sell if he had anything to support her. She responded “akamu, everybody buys that, I can start selling from the house”. Her husband supported her with little capital which she invested and started selling from her room and finally got a small space in the market.
Another told me, her husband lost his job. So in other to support her family, she decided to start harking from where she got a space in the market as well. Another told me that since she couldn’t have anyone to send her to school, she joined her mother in the market, soon she got older and decided to start her own business of selling vegetables after a while she got married and did not stop. “I sell this vegetable to support my family” she said.” What will I be doing at home all day, sleeping or gossiping or even helping other busy women to take care of their children when they are out there making money. God forbid”, she added.
I meet another lady who sells fish. She also has her own story. She told me her mother sold fish to train them all. Their father was a carpenter who never brings money home but goes out every day to work. At a point their mother got tired of his daily complain, “no money, manage this one” with them been sent home from school on several occasions for various reasons. Their mother later borrowed money from cooperative to expand her fish business. This she did with her and her other two sister until her untimely demise. The three of them continued to sell fish since they couldn’t get any employment up till date.
Another told me, her husband is dead. He left her and her four children with nothing. The money she got during his funeral that is the capital she invested into her business. This woman sells plantain in bulk.
The story could go and on, if I decide to interview more but I had finished my purchase, what else do I want to hear.
I believe, right in the market, every woman you meet most have her own story and if I understand them well, the profit margin is quite low coupled with the harsh weather condition which reminds me of a stanza in the NYSC anthem, “Under the sun or in the rain, with dedication and selflessness”. Please when next you are in the market, do well to limit how you pressurize these women to give you discount. Most of them, their daily family expenses come from what they sell.