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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Secrets of Success: Uncertainty, Profits and Prosperity in the Gari Economy of Ibadan
Author:Wan, Mimi
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Nigeria
market women
Urbanization and Migration
Economics and Trade
Labor and Employment
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161521
Abstract:Over the last fifteen years the 'gari' (processed cassava) supply system for the great urban centres of southwestern Nigeria has developed into a major sector of the urban food market. This article examines the commercial practices of Oyo Yoruba women traders who are largely responsible for this growth. On the basis of research carried out in Ibadan in 1992-1994, the author demonstrates that competition, success and secrecy are fundamental characteristics of the local food economy in Ibadan. No formal-sector financial or commercial institutions govern the 'gari' distribution system. The entire complex edifice, with its thousands of operators, has to depend on reliability and trust. Yet the operators themselves cannot function through open processes. To be successful in her profession a trader has to display her competence, but at various stages of the turnover of goods and money secrecy is of the utmost importance. The author traces the stages of the distribution process, describes where and how secrecy and display are practised, and explores women's commentaries on the techniques they use. She argues that the business techniques of the 'gari' trade - the mechanics of buying and selling, supplying and restocking, accounting and bookkeeping - function to disperse women's incomes and savings, which enables them to pool quickly when necessary. Earnings from the 'gari' trade form the basis of a circuit of reciprocal exchanges during life-crisis ceremonies, town celebrations and religious festivals, known as 'ariya'. The financial planning involved is illustrated with a number of examples. Bibliogr., gloss., notes, sum. in English and French.