Onitsha Market Literature is a fascinating cultural phenomenon that emerged in Nigeria during the 1950s and 1960s. It was a time of cultural and societal changes as Nigeria was moving towards independence from British colonial rule.
It represents a unique blend of language, creativity, and social commentary. originated in the bustling Onitsha Market in southeastern Nigeria.
The literature emerged as a response to the growing demand for affordable and easily accessible reading material among the urban and semi-literate population.Also, one of the defining features of Onitsha Market Literature is its use of pidgin English, a creole language that developed as a means of communication between different linguistic groups in Nigeria. Pidgin English is characterized by its simplified grammar and vocabulary derived from various indigenous languages and English. This made the literature accessible to a wider audience.
Onitsha Market Literature genre covered a wide range of themes, from romance and adventure to morality tales and social commentary. The stories often featured sensational and melodramatic plotlines that captured the readers’ attention. This literature had a strong oral tradition influence, which contributed to its engaging storytelling style. These literary works were produced in pamphlet form, making them affordable and easy to distribute. They were often sold in marketplaces and public spaces.
However, Onitsha Market Literature played a significant role in providing entertainment and diversion for people at a time when access to mainstream literature was limited.Today, Onitsha Market Literature serves as a valuable secondary source for researchers and historians studying the social conditions, values, and cultural dynamics of Nigeria during that period. The literature offers insights into the perspectives, aspirations, and concerns of everyday people, providing a glimpse into the societal norms and challenges of the time.