For almost 40 years, a market in Kaduna has continued to satisfy the yearnings of the people of not only the city but even those beyond in terms of goods and commodities especially textile materials and tailoring services. Since May 1973, Kasuwar Barchi (literally slumber market in Hausa), has been the place to be for textile needs and other goods and services. ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports how Kaduna Central Market, now Sheikh Mahmud Gummi Market gave birth to this big market just a stone’s throw away.
Kasuwar Barchi, which literally translates to slumber market, denotes a market where one goes to sleep, but contrary to its name, it is a thriving market where buying and selling, bargaining and exchange of goods and services by traders and artisans for money is the order of the day on a daily basis even on weekends and during public holidays.
The market started several decades ago as Tudun Wada Market where usual community goods and commodities are sold, but became enlarged and gained fame beginning from May 1973, when the need arose for the then Kaduna Central Market, now Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gummi Central Market to be rebuilt. The market, which now competes favourably with its parent, the Sheikh Mahmud Gummi Central Market in terms of volume of business done, serves traders from Funtua, Zaria, Abuja and Katsina as well as from within the Kaduna metropolis.
When it was decided to reconstruct the Central Market, the then military administration of the North Central state under the leadership of former military governor, Brigadier Abba Kyari (retd), decided to evacuate the traders to other locations for the time required, so as to give room for the builders do their work unhindered.
Thus, it was decided by the government to resettle the traders temporarily in two locations namely the current Police Barracks in Tudun Wada Poly Road by Chawai Road and the then Tudun Wada Market which later became Kasuwar Barchi according to the former secretary of the Central Market and now Sarkin Marna Sabongari, Alhaji Bello Rilwan.
Alhaji Bello, who served as Secretary of the Central market between 1973 and 1990 when he became the Sarkin Kasuwar Barchi, an office he held for 13 years, told Blueprint that Kasuwar Barchi derives its name from the pathetic situation of the traders at the market then, as low and often non-existent customers’ patronage then forced most of them to resort to sleeping inside their shops at all times of the day except the times for Muslim prayers.
He noted that a trader from Kano known as Alhaji Jayawa gave the market its current name when he looked at his fellow traders and the state of the market and said ‘our market has now turned to sleeping market (Kasuwar Barchi).’
Alhaji Bello, who ascended the office of Sarkin Marna Sabongari in 2003 after leading the migration of traders to Kasuwar Tudun Wada said, “Kasuwar Barchi came into being on May 8th, 1973 when the market was moved from Central Market because it was undergoing construction.
“The traders who migrated from the Central Market were divided into two and we were moved to Kasuwar Tudun Wada. But two weeks later on May 22nd, 1973 to be precise, contractors handling the remaining part of the market came to complain to the market officials that the remaining traders and their market activities were obstructing their activities and works.
“So, we went to the Kaduna Local Government in Magajin Gari and complained and the Local Government borrowed the Police Barracks along Poly Road from the Nigerian Police and established Kasuwar Dutse for the traders to be selling their goods before work was finished on the construction of the Central market.
“Then the Kasuwar Dutse enjoyed better patronage than the Kasuwar Tudun Wada for whatever reason, therefore the traders have nothing to do due to lack of business other than to sleep the day off and go back to their various homes at the end of the day. So one day one of the traders selling blouse by the name Alhaji Jayawa from Kano, lamented that every stall he enters he find traders sleeping.
“That the traders just come to the market to sleep as if that is what they are there for, as if the market is a place for sleeping, he now said ‘maybe we should call this market Kasuwar Barchi as people only come here to sleep,’ and that was how Kasuwar Tudun Wada was renamed as Kasuwar Barchi.“
Asked if they knew of any ulterior reasons behind the booming business of Kasuwar Dutse and the low patronage endured by the Kasuwar Barchi to the extent of giving the market a new name, Alhaji Bello said they just believed that God chose to favour Dutse market to the detriment of Kasuwar Barchi, adding that they believe that when it is God’s time He would also bestow His favour upon them and he did.
“Then when Kasuwar Dutse was making brisk business while traders in Kasuwar Barchi had nothing to do other than to sleep, we believe it was God’s will because we really could not fathom why the situation was so. But now there is no market in Kaduna state that enjoys business patronage better than Kasuwar Barchi not even the Sheikh Mahmud Gummi Central Market,” Alhaji Bello further stated.
Despite its name, Kasuwar Barchi is well known within and outside Kaduna state as a place where clothing needs are met from buying the textile material to having it sewed and designed by some of the best tailors and designers in the state and other textile accessories including sewing and knitting materials.
The Market caters for both new and fairly-used textile materials while also serving the needs of residents in the area of new and used rug and other carpets; used and new household furniture including beds, mattresses, cabinets and even electronic appliances.
The market also serves the foodstuff needs of the community such as Irish potatoes, yams, guinea corn, maize, beans, rice in bags and other smaller measures and soup ingredients. Also, cooking utensils such as stoves, mortars and pestle, sieve of various sizes, cooking pots (aluminium, iron and earthen), food coolers, warmers and preservers, animals like chicken, goats, sheep, dry fish, fresh and roasted bush meats and so on.
Jewelleries and other ornaments, slippers and sandals for children and adults alike, plastic materials and containers, buckets as well as schooling materials such as exercise and text books, bags of various makes and sizes. School uniforms and children wears are also found in the daily market.
Speaking further, the Sarkin Marna noted that the market is divided into sections with each having its sectional heads of traders and overall chairman of all the traders.
Enumerating the challenges being faced by the market, the former Sarkin kasuwa said Kasuwar Barchi lacks electricity and good security arrangement. He also lamented the absence of space for expansion as the market has been enveloped by residential and business premises on all the four major streets bordering it.
“There is no electricity and lack of security in the market, there is also no space for expansion as the market is choked up and surrounded by residential and commercial buildings leaving no space for expansion despite its increasing size,” Alhaji Bello Rilwan said.
The market, which lies on several blocks of an area mainly consisting of residential and commercial buildings, is bordered by Chawai, Dustsinma, Powa and Poly roads.
According to the current head of the market, Sarkin Kasuwar Barchi, Malam Ibrahim Mohammed, the market started as any other normal market in the 70s with traders selling various commodities such as foodstuffs, food condiments, textile and tailoring materials, building materials and even livestock.
Mohammed, who said he grew up in Tudun Wada close to the market added, “The Kasuwar Barchi market started as a usual market with people selling tomatoes, meat, and food ingredients, fruits, grains like beans, rice, corns, maize, and tubers like yam.
“But today, Kasuwar Barchi has evolved into a bigger market where virtually all goods, commodities, household materials, provisions and textile materials both new and fairly-used are sold. We also have some of the best tailors in the market; there are Kaftan tailors and other cloth designers. The old goods are still available but the market has expanded into a bigger one now.
“The traders then were selling their goods in open spaces that were later converted to zinc stalls and now government has built blocks of shops with deck and storey buildings. There are now over 2,000 shops in Kasuwar Barchi some are fully occupied and others yet to be occupied. And we have over 3,000 traders, artisans, and workers in the market,” Mohammed said.
Just like any other venture, the market is not without its challenges that the management, traders and customers hope would be resolved to make it a better place to trade. The major problems being faced by the traders include lack of potable water, security challenges and dirty environment.
The Sarkin Kasuwar Barchi therefore appealed to the Kaduna state Government and the Kaduna South Local Government authorities to come to their rescue fast to ensure hygienic environment for the traders and their families.
“We need a borehole. We need gates in the entrances leading into the market because we lack adequate security and the market also needs guards for the safekeeping of goods and protection of the traders and there is also the need for sweepers and cleaners to clean the environment periodically. We are appealing to the Kaduna state Government and the Kaduna South Local Government Council for their support in these regards.”