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My first visit to Oja-Ara was in October 2012, I had just arrived Lagos from a long unsuccessful business up north the night before and I needed a break. I found myself slipping into a slough of despondency and desperately sought to clear my head. Needless to say, I wanted a treat. Being unmarried and having a knack for shopping, I started scouring web pages and then the magazine I picked at the airport mall.

35 disappointing minutes later, I gave up my search for a fair deal; after the huge cash calls I made during my trip, I wasn't ready to empty my bank account and was looking for luxury at an affordable rate, something within my broke means.

Being out of touch for almost a week, I decided to read my mails before finally calling it a day, I dived into my inbox and there it was - a mail from my colleague with a subject - Scenes from the last Oja-Ara Edition ; strange but catchy enough to arouse my curiosity. I clicked to read the email with mild indifference and also wondering if this was a mistake on my colleague's part.

Just to be clear, Oja-Ara is a trade fair for small businesses mostly owned by women and - as I absolutely agree - a marketplace of many wonders.

I can't remember the content of the mail but I recall seeing interesting pictures and making up my mind on the spot to try out this place. A fair on a weekend seemed a good use of my time, I mean I had nothing to lose.

Saturday evening came and I arrived GET Arena, the location for the fair eager to feed my eyes and go home with a few items. But as it turned out, I was in for a surprise, so many items displayed at surprising discounts, I pinched myself to be sure I saw the prices correctly.

First I was surprised to see the number of people at the fair – women (of course), men, children, single, married, searching, etc were all at the fair to purchase an item or were there as someone else's handbag. Halfway through the market I had bought so many things – from designer leather bags to shoes and even hand-made accessories. I also purchased some kids' clothings for my sister who had 3 children and I found myself making phone calls to friends to talk about the fair. Some of my friends turned up and the party started. We shopped, had a makeover from a professional makeup artist and shopped more. I even ran into my colleague who also came along with her hubby.

There was a raffle draw and I won a fantastic jewellry, courtesy of one of the vendors. By the end of the day, I became a die-hard fan of Oja Ara and I have never missed an edition since.

I have some of the pictures I took from the fair but I'd rather you go see things for yourself. I don't think pictures could ever compare with the experience. It's not a wonder why it is called Market of Wonders. Another Independence edition is around the corner and yours truly won't miss it for anything.

Date: Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th October 2013, 11 am – 6.30 PM daily at GET Arena, Oniru Estate, Victoria Island (Opposite Oriental Hotel), Lagos

Contact: For more info and general enquiries
• Call Bukky on 08023620695
• E-mail [email protected]
My name is Mabel and I look forward to seeing you there.