An Encounter At The Market

Photo credit: Allnigerianrecipes

It was one of those sunny days in the city of Asaba when I went for a visit to my best friend who was serving her fatherland there.

Now, for those outside Nigeria, Asaba is the capital of Delta state in Nigeria.

A friend of ours wanted me to prepare  ogbono soup. So I decided to go to the popular Ogbogonogo market ( yeah, I know the name sounds funny). On getting there, I got all the ingredients needed for the soup except the ogbono.

In case you don't know, Ogbono is the local name for wild or African mango. The seeds are used in preparing a kind of soup and it is very popular in Nigeria.

Photo credit: Allnigerianrecipes

Okay, back to my encounter. After getting the ingredients, I was to get the ogbono. Each shop I entered and asked for it, I was told it wasn't available.
I was beginning to get agitated cos I was walking under the scorching sun even though I hate going to the market except for my personal shopping.

Finally, (with a sigh of relief) I got to a shop and asked the lady for ogbono and she told me to reduce my voice that it was forbidden. I became terrified. While trying to get the ogbono from where it was hidden, she was snooping around. She finally brought it but it wasn't ground and I needed it ground. I asked her for the latter, she immediately took offence and asked me to leave her shop. I was surprised cos I didn't know the reason for her action. I pled with her but it fell on deaf ears. At that instance, I almost cried cos that was my only chance of getting what I wanted after a long search.

I stood in the market like a lost sheep. I later changed my mind to try something else and I got back to the lady. I talked to her and there was no response,  she just gave me a cold stare like I was an outcast.
I hurriedly left the market cos I was scared and I didn't know if someone overheard me asking for ogbono and had gone to report me somewhere. That was how our thirst for ogbono soup was quenched.

On getting to know why ogbono was forbidden by the Asaba people, I  learnt that their onishe (mother goddess) uses it for spiritual functions. And is a serious offence if caught with it. Also if eaten, the person develops a swollen and peeling tongue.

In the market, they also have the Omu Children Task Force to catch an offender. If caught, he/she has to buy a goat, fowl, yam and others and equally dance round the market to cleanse it.

So when next you visit Asaba, do not ask for Ogbono in the market place even though it is sold in secret.


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