By George Odok
The Esuk Mba community market in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River is still practising trade by barter as a means of exchange for food items since it was established in 1956.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the market, which is located in a remote village in Esuk Mba in Akpabuyo, is a weekly market that starts from 7.am in the morning and ends at noon every Saturday.
Villagers usually move their consumable items to the market in exchange for the ones they are in need of.
This practice had been in peaceful existence among members of the community on every market day since 1956.
The Community’s Youth Leader, Mr Asuquo Effiong, said the market which serves as a tourists site to visitors, was in dire need of a facelift.
He said that the practice was still in existence because the market was handed over to them by their fore fathers; hence they cherish and preserve it.
According to him, the market is also significant because it was also a point of activities during the period of the slave trade in Nigeria.
“We grew up to meet this market. We hold it so much in high esteem and we want to sustain it. We use it to remember our fore-fathers and to sustain our culture.
“As you can see, they are varieties of food items on this section for exchange. In this market, you can bring your palm oil and exchange it for garri, yam, fish or plantain as the case may be.
“The market is close to the river side and our people here are predominantly fishermen. The community is not comfortable with the size of this market; there have been no expansion of the market since inception.
“In addition, we don’t have any good school here, no portable drinking water and health post. We need government intervention in this community,’’ he said.
A market woman, Mrs Eno Etim, who brought in yams for exchange for palm oil, said that the tradition had been with them for ages.
According to Etim, she had no palm oil in her house, hence she brought in four tubers of yam to exchange for a four litre of palm oil.
Also, Mrs Grace Okon brought in periwinkle, popularly called `mfi’ in Calabar language for exchange for garri.
She said that system has helped them over the years to safe cost in view of the scarce financial resources.
NAN observed that the most of the roofs in the thatched houses inside the market had already fallen off, while the woods that usually give the houses a standing position were lying on the ground.
A youth in the village, Mr Cyril Asuquo, who conducted NAN Correspondent through the slave trade route behind the market, up to the creeks where the slaves were been transported through the sea to other countries, said the route was called a `Point of no Return’.
He explained to NAN that the bank of the creeks was called a `Point of no Return’ because any slave that ever got to that point never came back to their families.
“This route is the Point of no Return as we heard from our fore-fathers; it used to be a slavery ground. When they take you to this point as a slave, it means no mercy, no return.
“We lost our fathers, mothers and relatives that were taken through this point. But in all, we thank God that the practice of slavery has been abolished,’’ he said.
Asuquo who also showed NAN the thatched house that used to serve as a resting point for the slave after a long distance trekking, urged the state government to make the spot a tourism site.