The beautiful tale of Urua Afaha; Uyo’s famous food market
Afaha market popularly known as Urua Afaha is one of the oldest surviving and most popular local markets in Ibibioland. Located in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA, Akwa lbom State. It is one market replete with a great history. A local by name, Mfon Ukime narrates the unique history of this iconic market.
According to the oral history, the market began when a renowned palm wine tapper from Afaha Etok named Obong Udo Iwuot established a selling point for his palm wine.Over time other people in the business joined him to sell their ‘palmy’ in the locus.
At that time, they did not need to stay and watch their products,only to place their palmwine in a container ( lkim),cover it with cocoyam leave and make holes on the cocoyam leaves according to the amount of money they want to sell.
For instance,if they make three holes on the leave,the would be buyer will know that that one goes for three Penny, the person will turn the palmwine into his own container and drop the money underneath the container then go with the product.There was no case of stealing nor shortchanging as the system was established by a potent oblation (mbiam).
By 1930, the selling spot was named Urua Anwa Udo Iwuot and became an established local market in Afaha Etok.By the turn of 1970 after the civil war, the hitherto unknown market(Urua Anwa Udo lwuot) had grown to the focal point of being a watershed of the economies of local people of Afaha.
In 2018,the market was relocated from the original site after being submersed by a eight-lane highway constructed by Akwa lbom State government.Today the market sits comfortably on about 150,000 square meters (15 hectres)in the Northern Ibesikpo Afaha group of villages.On why the market is sold twice a week every Tuesdays and Fridays instead of Ibibio days as it is obtained in every indigenous market in Ibibioland;
Chief lme Offiong Obot, a traditional ruler in the area has this to say,” To archive this,three local markets of the three villages of Atai, lkot Obio Nkan, and Afaha Etok had to be suspended and fused to market day,Again, the influence of missionaries who established Lutheran Church in the area also played a role for it was confusing for them to count the days”lf Itam market is known for clothing, Afaha market is reputed for having food in great abundance to buy.
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