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History & International Studies

Socio-Economic Importance Of Ekeututu, 1995-2014




Ekeututu is a big market that is located in Orsu Local Government of Imo State. It had travelled along the path of evolutionary process to its present form and shape. The market had served great socio-economic purpose within the land and beyond. Its internationalization in 1995 helped equipping the market with needed infrastructural facilities needed for greater economic take off. This resulted to expanded economic role to accommodate the interest of other merchants in cities. In a bid to achieve a discourse on the broadened socio-economic  importance of the market in Orsu, historical research method was adopted in this study. This is based on interpreting available primary and secondary sources of information. Fieldwork was also embarked upon to acquire firsthand information, based on observation and a survey of the market and the land of Orsu. It was discovered that the internationalization of the market encouraged some employment opportunities in the land.



Market is one of the varieties of system, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services (including labour) in exchange for money from buyers. It can be said that a market is the process by which the price of goods and services are established. It facilitates trade and enables the distribution and allocation of resources in society. Market emerges more or less spontaneously or may be constructed deliberately by human interactions in order to enable the exchange of right (ownership) of services and goods as well allowing trade-able items to be evaluated and priced.

The imperative establishing trade and marketing predated the modern interactions. For instance, most households in West Africa before colonial adventure regarded trade as a normal and integral part of their activities and planned their production strategies accordingly. The majority of the household undoubtedly produced a greater part of the goods required by the traders. But they had to exchange what they had in excess for what they lacked. There are two major types of trade namely-local and long distance trade. Local trade refers to transactions which took place within a radius of up to 10 miles of the area of production. This was the range which could be covered in one day by foot or by donkey, while still allowing time to exchange product and return home1. Beyond this radius it was necessary to make arrangement for over-night stops; to re-allocate work in the household and sometimes to make use of professional carriers and commercial intermediaries.

Some scholars have attributed the origin of local trade to a complementary need of the society which was in close proximity to each other. While some were of the opinion that local trade was stimulated primarily by long distance and especially external commerce. This interpretation, it should be said, helps to explain the existence of certain market. Short distance trade resulted from the production strategy of local household and from variations in the natural and human resources endowment of the environment2.

On this note, the meaning of market has to be cleared in West African terms. A market, in West African sense, connotes a demarcated site where traders and consumers met to exchange products. Transaction could, however, be made in places which were not, strictly speaking, markets. For instance, there were “road side markets” where goods were spread on the ground3.

In Igbo land, there are four market days. They include: Eke, Orie, Afor and Nkwo. Market days in Igboland are very significant that they are duly observed within every community. No doubt, the reign of Eze Nrijiofor I (1300-1390), the fifth Eze Nri in the line of succession marked the institutioning of four market days in Igbo traditions.

Basically, this work dwells on the origin of Ekeututu international market in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State, in Nigeria. The Eke appendage is drawn from one of the four market days in Igbo traditions. The bulk of this study is devoted to assessing the socio-economic impact of the market on the people of the land of Orusiliteutwa (the home of the market) and beyond. As an international market, its roles and benefits extends beyond the land and lives of Orsu Aborigines. Like any other market in Igbo society, Ekeututu had a multifunctional utility. It performed socio-economic functions, besides political. The market was a place of entertainment as well as an amusement park which enabled drummers and dancers among other festivities to be practiced therein. It was a place to disseminate information and spread news and rumours about the current events in the society.

Of equal importance, there was the impetus local production, agriculture and craftsmanship derived from the establishment of the market. It should be said that the time frame of this study span across a number of events which took place between 1995 and 2003. It was in 1995 that international status was attributed to the market. From this time people came from far and near to transact business. By 2003, infrastructural facilities and population as well as other factors making for international status had been consummated.

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1.1   Theoretical background

        Economic consideration is one of the major determinants in peoples’ migration and settlement. Such was the case of Ekeututu market in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State. Unrestricted opportunity for food crop production, adequate amount of rain fall and conducive temperature as well as security potential are some of the environmental factors that have served as pull and push factors in the migration and settlement of the people. Proponents of environmental determinism have suggested that man has no control over his environment and his totality including his behavioural and genetic characteristics such as languages, skin colour and innate tendencies are determined by the characteristics of the environment4. This means that the environment dictates man’s actions. It is evident that physical condition affects human condition and environment. For instance, hot climatic conditions have led to the evolution of protective dark skin while the existence of tropical forest may prolong the hunter stage of development and retard agricultural progress.

This school of thought lays the foundation upon which the origin of Ekeututu market and the immigration of other Nigerian peoples into the area for business transactions could be approached. Cultural and environmental similarities, no doubt, dictate the migration of other Igbo business men and women into the land. Onitsha, Owerri, Aba and Enugu traders are found in the area during market days. Other environmental factors of climatic conditions and the fertility of the land suggest the flourishing crops that are cultivated by the aborigines of the land.

Karl Marx contributed to the theory of economic development in three respects, namely, ‘in broad respect of providing an economic interpretation of history: in the narrower respect of specifying the motivating forces of capitalist development: and in final respect of suggesting an alternative path of planned economic development5. In his materialist interpretation of history, he attempts to show that all historical events are the result of a continuous economic struggle between different classes and groups in the society. In this approach, one begins to see the cause of fast expansion of the market up to international status. The ‘have’ (rich business men in cities) explores new markets for their commodities. While the ‘have-nots’(i.e the growing businesses) equally explores business environments that would enable them cope with stiff competitions from the rich and already established business in the cities. The confluence point of these business-adventurings and enterprising, in this case, is, Ekeututu providing such platform.

1.2   Scope of study

The scope of this study is precisely restricted to the socio-economic impact of Ekeututu international market since 1995-2014. It was in 1995 that the market having undergone transformation process attained an international status. In 2014, the market acquired modern infrastructural facilities as a resulted of government and individuals interventions and population increased tremendously. Security potential of the market was greatly heightened to deter marauders in this year.

1.3   Aim and objectives of the study 

The aim of this study is:

  • To reconstruct the multi-dimensional functions of Ekeututu market since its origin:

While the objectives leading to this aim are:

  • To trace the historical background of the market prior to 1900
  • To assess the social impact of the market
  • To appraise the economic effect of Ekeututu to Orsu aborigines as well as non-indigenes.
  • To identify those cultural and economic factors that fostered the development of the market

1.4   Significance of the study

The benefits derivable from this work is numerous and such importance includes the following:

  1. Its general utility equips prospective market historians with requisite knowledge and guidance for such endeavour.
  2. It provides a written record of the evolutionary stages of Ekeututu which never existed till now.
  3. It has reconstructed the socio-economic impact of Ekeututu systematically to fit-in to contemporary study and had redeemed it from a slip into oblivion.
  4. The study would be very useful to researchers who will go into the history of Orusihiteukwa or her neighbours.

1.5   Research methodology

Historical research method is adopted in this study. This is to reconstruct the past systematically and objectively through diligent collection, interpretation and systematizing evidence to establish facts and conclusion that are capable of equipping our knowledge and understanding6.

Primary and secondary sources of information were used in this study. By primary sources one talk about those places, people or human remains that provided raw information that were studied and interpreted by the researcher. Such primary sources of important information in this study were acquired from the elders of the land. A survey of the land in which Ekeututu is situated was carried out to get familiar with people and acquire firsthand information.

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To this effect, interviews were conducted, some of the questions raised are:

  • In what year was Ekeututu established?
  • How was the stages of its growth
  • When did it become an international market
  • What factors encouraged its transition to international market
  • What is the similarity between Ekeututu and other international markets.
  • What are the economic importance of the market to both aboriginal people of the land and traders from outside
  • Is the market centre of entertainment
  • What cultural factors fostered entertainment
  • Has the presence of the market benefitted Orsuihiteukwa and her neighbours etc.

The interviews were carried out in Igbo language. However, out of the fifty people interviewed (both individually and in group), only fifteen provided useful information to the questions asked. The reason for this includes old age, level of literacy and fear of unknown consequences.   In collecting the information, audio tape recorder as well as phone recorder became useful in recording the responses of the respondents. These pieces of information collected were interpreted objectively in this study.

Also, by secondary sources, the researcher essentially reports, the observation of others in a more or less, in personal or detached manner, the account of the reporter who is not an eye witness of the events. In this study, such secondary materials like books, and journals which were acquired from University libraries, inter personal borrowing and personal library were used. Information derived were interpreted objectively and utilized to the effectiveness of this study.

1.6   Literature review

In the world of today, literature exists virtually in every place concerning the people’s ways of life in varying degrees. It is on this background that one examines the extent to which existing literature could benefit the present literature on Ekeututu market. First, the history and culture of Orlu people presented to the student Ambassadors in the 12th regular course of the foreign service academy of Nigeria by His Highness, Eze Ugo III of Okporo-Deputy Chairman of Imo State Council of traditional rulers on 10th December 19947. In his terms.

Time and history bear witness that by 1912, Orlu was administered as a District in the eastern province of Owerri in Southern Nigeria, with headquarters in calabar-Orlu then consisted of some 68 ancient interspersed into four administrative clans of Orsu, Oru, Nkalu, and Isu’8.

The historical name Orlu was therefore an administrative coinage:


R- Oru

L- Nkalu

U – Isu

It was coined by a young British District Commissioner, Mr. H.S Burrough, out of the alphabets in the names of the four component clans. The mention of Orsu in Eze Ugo’s address, by extension showed the location of Ekeututu. However, it was not an endeavour committed to reconstructing the history of Ekeututu market nor Orsu in particular.

Anyanwuocha’s9 definition of market is insightful, especially, to a work on market history. To him, buyers and sellers could be in contact in a fixed place such as a shop, an office and street or village market. It does not matter whether buyers and sellers are close to each other physically, the essence of a market is that it enables buyers and sellers of goods and service to strike a bargain10. Contrarily, the submission of Anyanwuocha does not fit into West African market system. Ekeututu is in West Africa, therefore, any discourse of this kind should take into account this variation.

Ogunremi and Faluyi gave a clear picture of West African market which falls within this purview.

A market in West African sense, is a demarcated site traders and consumers met to exchange products. Transactions could, however, be made in places which were not, strictly speaking, market…..there were road side markets where goods are spread on the ground11.

In the terms of Anyanwuocha, a market may not necessarily involve physical contact. While Ogunremi and Faluyi presented an African view of a meeting point either a demarcated site or a road side. However, both perspectives are not directly linked to Ekeututu. They only presents general guidelines for a work on market history.

Uchendu has clearly distinguished urban markets from rural ones by their characteristics. Using the criteria of location and periodicity.  According to him, we can distinguish two types of market place, the urban and rural. The urban market holds daily except on Sunday since they are located in the cities, their sanctions, are provided by status, except for a few farmers who sell their products either to the city middlemen or directly to the final consumers. The city traders are quite specialized, deriving the major source of their income from this occupation12.

According to him, the rural market on the other hand, differs in size and extent of their specialization. The most important ones are the local weekly markets which holds every day in Igbo four days or eight days. This affects the composition of Ekeututu greatly. Despite its size, it is conducted on four day period. This rural feature lays credence to Uchendu’s submission. But differs, in the sense despite on the days it holds, it is from morning to evening. But Uchendu asserts that rural markets holds in the morning or evening.

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Njoku holds that market in pre-colonial Nigeria were predominantly periodic, not daily. They are still in the rural areas of the country, periodicity variety according to culture and areas, but four-days and eight days periodicities were spread. Sixteen days market periods were less common, while twenty four days market days were very rare13. The shorter the periodicity of a market, the smaller was its catchments area, so in league encompassing from four days to twenty four days, four days market catered for the smallest catchment areas, while the twenty four day market was the largest. He noted, also, that local market was an adjunct to the domestic cheers of women14. Though, Ekeututu shares part of these attributes mentioned by Njoku such as periodicity. It is a four-days market periodicity. Time and scope had changed events. Many changes had occurred in Ekeututu of today, while Njoku’s discourse centered around pre-colonial times and Nigeria market structure, not Ekeututu to be precise.

Basden noted that it might almost be affirmed that the whole of the native trades is in the hands of the women and by them, largely, the markets are controlled15. Ordinarily, no Igbo man takes in the actual buying and selling. He may have some share in preparing the goods for the market. If an Igbo man be seen buying in the market, it is almost a certain indication that he is either strange or a man with no woman folks to act of him. Basden again observed that they could not be kept away from local markets. He noted also, that apart from its commercial import, the market place was a venue for social interaction, gossips were bandied about, lovers met and date and some people went there to enjoy the thrill of mass gathering.

The above description captures the characteristics of any village market in Igbo land. However, Ekeututu deserves special comment. First, Ekeututu is situated in the rural area, but, it had gone beyond the qualities of a village market. Its size brings about the imperative that both men and women had engaged in buying and selling. In fact, men own many big shops at the market.

Of equal importance is the fact that traders come from different cities in Igbo land to market their commodities. The notion of Basden becomes prominent in the sense that Ekeututu provides the forum for gossiping, meeting of lovers among others.

Adam smith in his Wealth of Nation defined economics as inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. He further stated that this could be uniform of resources, industries and trade16. Trade is vital because it strikes a balance in the human economy and acts as an avenue for humans to exchange goods and services, and this could be carried out in the various types of market.

Ajetunmobi17 has set the history methodological guidelines which any research making use of historical method should adopt. To a study of Ekeututu market, the adoption and utility of historical research method idea of sourcing  information was borrowed from this book. However, the book failed to identify those challenges a researcher would be faced with during field work in Igboland.

Philip Sarre and John Blunden pointed out that the behaviour of man is dictated by some environmental factors. These factors include fertility of land, climatic condition among others18. These factors aided the migration of other Igbo people into Orsuihiteukwa area for trading activities.

Jhingan presented Karl Marx economic determinism that history attempts to show that all historical events are the result of a continuous economic struggle between different classes and groups in the society. The struggle for wealth creation by the labour force in Ekeututu and to top their masters is vivid example of Marx economic determinism. Therefore the history of the economy of the market will still discuss struggle between the “haves and the have not”. However, economic determinism does not attempt discussing economic situation in Ekeututu but provided wider view of world historical events as being the result of this struggle. Also, every event can not be explained as the result of the struggle between the ‘haves and the have nots’.

Oguagha discussed those factors of inter group relations in Nigeria, which include location of a people, economic activities, natural resources among others20.

These factors lay credence to economic and geography determinism in the Ekeututu economic lives. The book offers little contribution to this work because only its ideas on the factors aiding migration, settlement and social interactions are borrowed and utilized in this study.

Pages:  92

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-4

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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