John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
Studies of the Maasai, the Luhya, and Nairobi's Urban Fringe
 Working with Fibres : 207-213 |  Brewing : 214-216
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Working with Fibres : 207-213
207. Men do most of the weaving. Elephant grass (alias Napier grass) is laid out in the sun before it is split and woven into baskets of one kind or another.
208. These ones are made to carry grain and other coarse-grained agricultural produce.  For the transport or storage of fine-grained material they will be lined with cow dung (frame 188).
209. Men also weave mats and the panels sometimes used as screens to cover walls and ceilings.
210. Brooms, made by women in their “spare time” to earn some cash, are also made of Elephant grass, interwoven with strips of rubber bicycle tyres to bind the handle together.
211. Large wicker baskets like this one en route to the market are used to move or store produce in bulk. Larger ones still are used as corn cribs and roofed with thatch.
212. Sisal fibres like these are obtained from a type of agave plant. The leaves are crushed and the fibres separated off by scraping over a comb-shaped device. It is done by hand, and by children as well as adults.
213. It is used by women in the production of a number of handicraft items (table mats and the like) but the men twist most of it into rope ... or used to, for rope making is a dying craft because of imported synthetics.
Brewing : 214-216
214. Weaving also has a role to play in the local brewing industry -- in the production and consumption of busaa, locally brewed native beer made from corn mash and sprouted millet.
215. Woven filters like these are used in drinking, to separate off the solids.
216. Also illegal here is the production of whiskey (changaa) using corn mash and molasses, with sprouted millet in place of yeast.


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