Our Children Craft Centre Childhood Expedition

Children Craft Centre:

Children Craft CentreChildren craft centre is a place designated for children in my locality to learn our local crafts. This Children craft centre is under the control of Dee Cira as he is fondly called by all the children in our village. It was later in life I found out that Cira is a short name coined out of the name Cyracus.  This name is mainly common among the Catholic faithful and their family is one of them. The founder of our Children craft centre is his elder brother called Livinus. He has left our village to the city where he’s working as a vehicle mechanic. And because of that Dee Cira became the leader of the craft centre.

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Interestingly, you cannot just be the leader of the craft centre if you have nothing to offer. Therefore, leadership at the centre requires the knowledge and dexterity in craftsmanship. This knowledge is passed on to the younger ones who will in turn pass it on to the ones coming behind them. This makes our Children craft centre a busy place especially during long school vacations. It was a Monday morning an Orie Amaraku market day and my mother has gone to the market. She has gone to sell palm oil and some agro-products. Well, before she left to the market that morning she promised to buy me a special Agwa Iko (beans cake). This is a way to show appreciation to my effort in occupying the first position in my class.

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 Bato’s Arrival:

This morning I was ruminating over the experience on how our headmaster called my name as the one that came first in the exams. Then I remember how I came out from the crowd of pupils and how they were clapping for me. It was a delightful moment to always behold; it shows that hard work pays. I have fought for this for a long time but now it has become a reality. And I know for me is forward ever. As this was going through my mind, I chuckled…..

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Immediately, I heard a call from behind our house, Kensi, Kensi it was Bato. He has come to pick me so that we can go to our Children craft centre. The Children craft centre has become a rally place for children in my village especially during this long vacation. One of the benefits of our children craft centre is that it helps to keep our mind engaged. Therefore it has helped to reduce waywardness among children in my village. Also another benefit is that through this centre many children in my village have known different kinds of craft.  Some children are able to raise funds for their school fees from our craft centre. In this case, the craft centre has become a means and medium to support our parents financially.

The Location Of Children Craft Centre:

The Children craft centre is situated in a compound that belongs to Dee Cira’s family. The Children craft centre is also known as the Ubari ukwu (big shelter). An Ubari is an open centre that is constructed with thatch raffia palm and with palm tree trunks as pillars. At the center of the Ubari is a strong dried Ugba tree trunk which the roof rests on. The dried Ugba tree trunk is the main pillar holding the roof strongly, so that when strong winds come the roof will not be removed.

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At the right edge of the Ubari is a fire spot just in case if anyone is hungry he can prepare anything there. This long vacation period is the period of corn and local pear. So, it is not out place to find children roasting their corns and pears. The Ubari is actually a conducive place for the kind of crafts we make.

Children Craft Centre Fully Parked:

When we arrived at the craft centre, Nta and Issy were already there trying their hands in one or two things. Like I said to be a leader in our Children craft centre you have to be a master of many crafts. The leader guides each child in the craft centre in the steps to follow in making his choice of craft.  There are different kinds of craft available for us to learn and master though it all depends on one’s passion. In our children craft centre we make crafts like Agiri. An Agiri is a kind of mat that is made from raffia palm fronds.

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One has to separate the fronds from the stick carefully because the fronds are full of thorns. And after this comes the removal of the bark with a sharp knife and of course it is done carefully. This is to avoid being injured by the sharp edges of the stick. After removing the bark of the stick you have the soft tissue of the stick. This you measure out and cut in long rectangular shapes. At this point the job is half way done, but you have to get the raffia fronds that are younger. Here you have to use your finger nails to separate the thin membrane covering the each single leaf. The membrane is whitish in nature.

Making Of Agiri:

Children Craft CentreThis membrane is what you are going to use to bind the rectangular stripes you have made earlier. But before this, you have to collect as much as possible and hang them outside for the sun to dry them. This process may take some hours to complete. Meanwhile, you can continue to make more stripes and at the same time evaluate their quality.

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You have to use nice ones so that your Agiri should be smooth and neat. Women are the major buyers of Agiri in the market. They use it to make small shelters in the market and at the same time it serves as mat for spreading their goods. Agiri doesn’t last for a long period of time because beetles attacks it.

Making Ekete In The Children Craft Centre:

The next craft one can learn in our children craft centre is Ekete (local basket). To make an Ekete is a little tedious than making Agiri. In making an Ekete one needs to get fresh palm fronds and carefully remove the bark. In removing the bark you must make sure that some parts of the tissue is attached to it. This is important because it will help to make the stripes to be malleable while you form your basket. Strong and stiff stripes are not good for making baskets because they break along the line. And the result is that the output will not be good. Then after this, one needs to remove the front outer layer of the frond gently with sharp knife. You make sure that the inner tissue is not attached to it.

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This will make the stripes to be soft and weightless and it can be meandered in between the bark stripes easily. Forming an Ekete is not an easy thing to do; one needs to be very tactical and shrewd. The Eketes are made in different sizes and they all serve different purposes. Another craft one can learn in our children craft centre is what is called Abo. Though Abo is not something a little child like us can grasp the knowhow quickly.  However, one can have an overt knowledge of it. Therefore, because of the tedious nature of making Abo, the grownups among us are the ones that engage their hands on it. The truth is that making Abo requires so much time and patience as well.

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The Plastic Age:

Well, as I am talking to you know, I and Bato have made one basket each. Our target is to make one basket a day. It means before school resumes we would have gotten at least thirty baskets. It will fetch us enough money to pay for our school fees.

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However, I will not dispose all my baskets but will use some for the forthcoming church harvest. The children craft centre in my village has over the years being a place of source of income to us. The disadvantage we have nowadays is that we are in the plastic age and none of these crafts are in high demand again.

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