Banana Fiber Fixes Everything
Picture riding a public transportation bus on a dirt road, which is already a rough start in Uganda, and the bus suddenly stops. The bus had blown a gasket … As people file out of the bus Todd says he can remember thinking, “we’re gonna be here a while.” Then all of the sudden the bus driver grabs this straw like material, he does some mending of sorts to fix the blown gasket, and BAM the bus is up and running and they get to where they are going.
The straw like material that was used to fix the bus was Banana fiber and it is used all over the world as a useful utility material. In African culture, it is the general imagine of a fruit, kind of like an apple is here in the US, and has many other benefits besides it’s obvious nutritional value. As Todd recalls, the banana fiber is not some natural, organic, mechanical wonder fix that no one in the western world knows about, but it did get us where we were going. In a lot of ways banana fiber is the “everything fix” like duck tape is here in the states, but it can also be used to make ropes, mats, and other things.
To get the banana fiber from the banana plant is a very tedious and slow process, but it is necessary to avoid damaging the fiber. The banana plant sections are cut from the main stem of the plant and then rolled lightly to remove any excess moisture. Impurities in the rolled fibers such as pigments, broken fibers, coating of cellulose, etc. are removed manually by means of comb, and then the fibers are cleaned and dried. This is a long and strenuous, traditional process that has been bettered by industrial machines. After this process is finished, it can be spun into yarn using looms, as with any material that is made into yarn.
There are several different types of banana plants and all have fibers that can be turned into usable material. As the world becomes more environmentally aware, banana fibers have become more prevalent of the organic, environmentally friendly material. We invite you to explore the uses of our traditional African culture’s “duct tape”!