HONESTY AND THE OLD IGBO SOCIETY: THE MARKET THIEF

HONESTY AND THE OLD IGBO SOCIETY: THE MARKET THIEF

“Honesty and fair dealing were pretty much taken for granted in the market. You could price a commodity and then take it out of the seller’s sight to ask the opinion of your friends. An article purchased and found bad could be returned for a refund within four days.

Once, though, I did see a thief. I saw him take away a chicken to examine and return. But he “put it away” and went about buying other goods. The owner, realizing that her chicken would not be returned or paid for, went about in search of the man.

At last, she located the thief, but was not sure whether he was the man who had promised to return the chicken. She stood watching him anxiously. “Woman, why do you look at me as though I stole your chicken?” the man asked, looking a little worried and frightened. “How do you know that I was robbed of a chicken? You are a thief!” she exclaimed. “Return me the chicken that I am missing!” “I do not know you, woman. I did not steal your chicken.” As they argued, a crowd gathered around.

The woman summoned the market controller, who, after hearing the parties, passed judgment in her favour. The man was fined five shillings, which was ten times the value of the chicken.”

Culled from Mbonu Ojike, My Africa (London: Blandford Press, 195), 49.

My dearest friends, when we pray: “give us this day our daily bread” we are actually saying: give us this day our daily work. Without daily work there cannot be any daily bread. To avoid ending up as a market thief do yourself the favour of looking for a daily job. Learn any hand work so that the prayer for God’s daily bread will indeed be a prayer and not a joke.

Wishing my dearest friends, a memorable new week.
Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu