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Welcome to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Onitsha Market Literature Guide. This guide is designed to assist researchers with identifying pamphlets sold in the Onitsha Market, located in Onitsha, Nigeria, during the mid-twentieth century. Collectively, these writings have become known as "Onitsha Market literature". The Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division has a significant collection of these titles available in print and microform. The guide also includes publications written about Onitsha Market literature as well as a selection of journal articles. Resources at additional New York Public Library locations and other institutions are also highlighted.
From the Collection
Life Turns Man up and Down by
Call Number: Sc D 01-2347
A unique anthology that brings together examples of once wildly popular but long out-of-print African market literature never intended as art: irresistibly charming, brief literary anomalies in all genres, written for entertainment, instruction, and moral guidance. An indigenous Nigerian publishing phenomenon that was all the rage from World War II until the late 1960s, Onitsha Market literature consisted of pamphlets that contained stories, novels, plays, discourses on the dangers of loose living, and advice on matters ranging from selecting a wife to managing your money. They carried titles such as Lack of Money Is Not Lack of Sense, Drunkards Believe Bar As Heaven, No Condition Is Permanent, and How to Write Love Letters, Toasts, and Business Letters. Originally sold at Onitsha Market (the largest open-air market in Africa), the pamphlets have become priceless collectors’ items. This anthology—facsimile reproductions of the original texts, illustrations, and cover art—now makes them available to a wider audience.