An Onitsha Market pamphlet


Onitsha Market pamphlets appear to be a niche collecting area.There are some amusing examples in semi pidgin English about how to court and pick up girls, also  well written political and economic booklets. They are also referred to as African Market literature… There are quite a few at abebooks including a collection  of 30 at $2000 with Harper’s in the Hampton’s NY (‘…most of it characterized by sensational, and even slightly prurient, content, rustic production values, and a disarmingly naive, to an American reader’s eyes at least, approach to its subject matter.’) Brittanica defines them thus: ‘ A 20th-century genre of sentimental, moralistic novellas and pamphlets produced by a semiliterate school of writers (students, fledgling journalists, and taxi drivers) and sold at the bustling Onitsha market in eastern Nigeria.’
There is a good book on the subject An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets by Emmanuel N. Obiechina. Here is our catalogue description of one just found–

The Complete Story And Trial Of Adolf Hitler by J C Andrue.

8vo. pp 36. Marked up throughout in red pen, probably by the author. Appears to be for a future edition, almost all the notes are to do with typography and appearance (indents, italics, bold, type sizes etc.,)  

This is an Onitsha Market pamphlet -there is a large collection of them dated between 1962 and 1972 at University of Texas ( Harry Ransom).
Found in an article in The Spectator by Edward Theberton 1/6/89 this piece: “But much the strangest pamphlet was entitled The Complete Story And Trial Of Adolf Hitler. On its pink cover was a faded picture of an angry-looking Hitler in lederhosen sitting on a garden wall, with the caption: ‘This is the picture of Adolf Hitler. the strong man who believed in action and retaliation.’ The pamphlet is in the form of a play, which the author recommends for use in schools. The open- ing scene takes place at the ‘German National Hall’ where ‘General’ Hitler gives a press conference. ‘Fellow countrymen and women,’ he says, ‘I, General Hitler, have decided to call this important meeting today being October 1913 just to explain to you the recent events hanging about.’ He then complains that a German aircraft was forced by British agents to land in Liberia and that the elder son of the British ambassador to Germany ‘mercilessly beat a German Lady’ without even a letter of apology. The reporters then ask him about Germany’s military strength. ‘Germany have Army, Navy and Air force of over 100,000,000 strong men and over 50,000,00() Police men and in addition to all this, all German citizens are trained to serve as soldiers.’ In the next scene, the British leader ‘Mr Wilson Church-hill’ admits the ambassador’s son hit the German Lady, but says it was in self defence. The climax of the play is Hitler’s trial for war crimes.”


From Onitsha Market Literature Gallery (many thanks)

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