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Namirembe Turns Banana Leaves Into Cash 

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Ritah Mukasa

For over 30 years, Milly Kivumbi Namirembe has been earning from baskets. This is her goldmine. 

She weaves them before selling them to exporters. She makes those that hold fruits, cutlery, and offertory plus wall decorations. She also makes tablemats and jewellery.

Namirembe uses materials from the environment to make baskets. 

These include; stems from banana leaves, which she dries into soft fibers. She also uses raffia (obuso in luganda). Raffia comes from the leaves of the raffia palm, which is common in forests across the country.

On how fibers are made, she says, after cutting down banana leaves, you remove the stem and dry it under mild sun for a few hours. 

Use a knife to split it into neat fiber also called enjulu in Luganda.

Thereafter, dry them and tie them in neat bundles. Then, they are ready for use. 

However, being in a town where banana leaves are scarce, Namirembe buys her fiber from Busega and Katwe markets. She is a resident of Makindye in Kampala.

“Those banana leaves vendors have the fibers. They sell bundles from sh2,000. The one of sh10,000 can make me baskets worth sh300,000,” she says.

Meanwhile, Namirembe learnt this skill from her late mother who also picked it from her grandmother. Basket making was their main source of income. 

She currently trains two primary schools and works with Caritas organization, to train refugee groups in Kampala. She earns sh100, 000 a day. Schools pay her sh50, 000 for two hours of training. 

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