Asides the people who grew up in the barracks, a lot of us who were privileged to serve our fatherland during the mandatory 1-year National Youth Service should have come across that market of all sorts typically referred to as “mammy market.” This piece reveals the origin of the popular “mammy market”
Do you know that apart from being a notable part of Nigerian barracks, the popular mammy market serves as a relaxation spot for most corps members especially at night? And for some it is a place to unwind after the rigours of drilling from the soldiers on camp and for a selected few, it is a place to woo female corps members that draw the fancy of their male counterparts. To put it mildly, mammy market is usually a beehive of activities in NYSC camps across the country. And guess what? I came across an-in-depth explanation of how the name Mammy came to be. Here is the gist;
What is today known as Mammy market is named after a woman called Mammy Anthony Ochufe, married to an Anthony Aboki Ochufe, a young non-commissioned military officer from Idoma, Benue. They were posted to the army barracks, Abakpa, Enugu. To quell boredom and also make money, Mammy Anthony Ochufe started a drink kiosk to service the needs of the soldiers in the barracks. She made local drinks like kunu also called Enyi in Idoma or gruel in English.
A complaint about the drinks attracting flies to her house was made by an RSM who was not enthusiastic about her business, hence Mammy Anthony Ochufe had to stop its production and sales. Due to the fact that her husband was really not a high ranking officer, there was nothing they could do to save her business. The loss of the drink kiosk was felt for weeks by the customers, perhaps it can be right to say people mourned the disappearance of the drink kiosk
However, officers and other soldiers who missed the nutritional and life-saving Kunu mounted pressure on the authorities to reinstate the drink kiosk, and so it happened that the order was reverted. Mammy Anthony Ochufe resumed her business yet gain. Also, a portion was carved out in the barracks and allotted to her to continue saving lives and enriching bodies with her drink which became the toast of all.
This inspired other military wives and women to sell complimentary drinks like burukutu, pito, palm wine, kain-kain and other alcoholic beverages, in addition to peppersoup and other delights for the relaxation of the rank and file in the evenings when they close from work and they are permitted to drink alcoholic beverages. The market became a one stop shop for everything.
Interestingly, Anthony Ochufe became a military Governor in Enugu and our ‘Mammy’ a first Lady. By now, the Mammy market (which is also a registered business conglomerate) became a mandatory addition to every barracks. In addition, some higher institutions e.g law school and NYSC camps also have a compulsory mammy market.
Now you know how the popular Mammy Market came to be, I hope this history maker is recognized and honoured. So whenever you go to any mammy market to unwind just know that Mammy Anthony Ochufe is there with you.
Culled from the Facebook wallof Enwongo Cleopas
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