Yaba Market: The Market that Refused to Die, Evolve and Retrogress



One of the most popular and funny market in Lagos is Yaba, always there in a funny way and created in a bizarre way. Standing side by side with the modern market. Yaba market has come to be enigmatic, refusing to die and refusing to modernise and also refusing to retrogress. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Yaba market.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had one reason or the other to pass through Yaba Market. Yaba Market isn’t too far from the confusion called Ojuelegba – you’ll recall that late Afrobeat maestro, Fela sang glowingly about Ojuelegba where confusion break bone.

Today, I’m not talking about Ojuelegba or another of its neighbours – the Tejuosho Market, but Yaba Market.

Yaba Market lives on the rail tracks and it has always been like for as long as I can remember. When the trains blare their horns, the traders and hawkers take to their heels but return as soon as the long iron snake crawls by. Not a few of these traders and hawkers have been crushed to pulp, yet they always return to the tracks peddling all manner of clothing and accessories.

Because government after government know it’s dangerous trading on the rail-tracks, they’ve stopped at nothing to shutdown the market but like a cat with nine lives, Yaba Market has refused to die.

Not once has the market been gutted by fire but like phoenix, the market keeps rising from its ashes. The last time the market went up in flames, former Lagos Sate Governor, Babatunde Fashola felt it was an opportunity to rebuild the equally popular Tejuosho Market just by Yaba Market. Fashola did a good job of it. But that’s not Yaba Market. Yaba Market has a life of its own. It doesn’t thrive on beautiful structures and well laid terraces. It thrives on the rail-tracks and on the shoulders of hawkers.

But why is Yaba Marketing refusing to die?

Yaba Market is synonymous with secondhand clothes popularly called okirika market in Lagos. I’m told that boutique owners across Lagos are their greatest patronizers and anyone who wants the best grade of okirika must visit Yaba Market.

Being close to the University of Lagos and the Yaba College of Technology explains the huge population of young ladies who throng to the market everyday to pick the best grades of Okirika they fittingly describe as bend-down boutique. In fact, these young people target when new bales of okirika arrive and that’s

l can’t say where these bales of okirika come from but it’s the one commodity that confers on Yaba Market some form of invincibility.

If you want to get a feel of Yaba Market, visit the market in the evenings, you’ll understand why the market have refused to die.

Earl Okezie

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