Gospel on the banks of the Niger : journals and notices of the native missionaries accompanying the Niger expedition of 1857-1859 by Crowther, Samuel; Taylor, John Christopher (1859)

Mr. Taylor's stay at Onitsha, upwards of twelve months, will enable him to give minute accounts of the country, as well as the habits of the people; but it will not be amiss for me to state a few facts which came under my observation during a period of nearly seven weeks' stay at Onitsha. ...
A few notices of Onitsha, Idda and Gbebe and of the overland route to Abeokuta - VIII of XI
All persons of some property are called Oganranyan.
The Doctor, or Priest, called Dibia, is another person of consequence, and is very much feared by the people.
He has a great sway over the people, from his pretension to be able to foretell things to come, and discover secrets.
A Captain of War is called Odogo ; and is distinguished for having killed as many persons in war, as long feathers being attached to his cap : when they amount to six, he gets into the highest rank of captains ; and, to perpetuate his valour, whenever one has killed an enemy of consequence in war, a young bombax is planted on the occasion ; hence may be seen a great number of these huge trees close together, and sometimes in a regular row, about in the town of Onitsha.
The group of old cocoa-nut trees, as well as large groves of old and lofty trees, said to have been planted by their forefathers, together with the old age of many persons now at Onitsha, from fifty to sixty, whose parents were said to have been born here, shew that it is one of the old towns in the Ibo country, and that the country has been very little disturbed by slave-wars, except by their own petty quarrels.
The Ibos cultivate the land, and grow yams, corn, beans, bananas, and plantains ; but, as everyone cultivates only what will do for his own wants, provisions become very dear before a new crop comes in.
Hence it is advisable to lay in a good stock of provisions, yams, and corn, about the harvest time, when the surplus of their crops is sold off ; or else one must starve at Onitsha, or pay an enormous sum in cowries for a trifle at the time of want.
Cowries are of very little value here ; and very little difference is made between the quality of cotton cloths.
Iron bars, salt, but particularly American leaf-tobacco, are the most useful articles for barter, for almost every thing.
They have eight markets — four of which are called great markets — and four small ones, which are held in rotation ; and the name of each is so well known that time and business is regulated by them.
Some persons from Sierra Leone, not considering that eight days must expire before these markets are held in turn, and the ninth day begins the first market again, have improperly called the eight days a week, trying to assimilate them with the seven days of the week of the Christians.
The names of the four great markets are, Orie Uko, Afo Uku, Nkuica Uku, and Eke Uku ; the four small ones are Orie Nta, Afo Nta, Nkiiwo Nta, and Eke Nta.
The word Uku means great, or big ; Nta means little, or small.
The word Uku means great, or big ; Nta means little, or small.
Sheep, goats, fowls, fish, kola-nuts, and palm oil, are brought by the Ibos, to exchange for natron, gunpowder, iron bars, salt, and rum, from the trading canoes.
Upon the whole, Onitsha is a very promising field of Missionary labour, if properly attended to, and a fair opening into the interior of the Ibo country ; from thence communication may be opened with Idda by land, in two or three days' travel.
Omuko - Onitsha Province (Nri Awka), Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (University of Cambridge), Cambridge, UK

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