Documenting the Endangered Traditional Broom and Fibre Rope Crafts of the Urhobo People of Nigeria

By Julius Ivwoba Arerierian Ivwoba Arerierian | 15 October 2019

The traditional natural broom and fibre rope crafts of the Urhobo people of Nigeria are highly endangered by the introduction of synthetic nylon polyester and polypropylene ropes and brooms. The polished and dry bark of the natural wetland flax plant of the Niger Delta region traditionally called erhọ is used for making the traditional fibre rope. The traditional broom is made with the stalk of the oil palm frond. The two craftworks are related and are cultural heritage and identity of the people. Natives could identify from a group of craftworks which particular one was local and which was from other lands. The craftworks have domestic and religious uses in rural Urhobo communities. Much of the traditional process, registers and knowledge system associated with these material practices are endangered. The domains of their traditional registers are shrinking. This project seeks to use unstructured interviews, participant observation and recording (audio and video) to document the cultural practice of Urhobo fibre rope and broom crafts before they completely die. The research site is Eghwu-Urhobo community of Delta State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. This is a one-year project out of which, three months (November –January) will be spent on data collection and simultaneous preliminary analysis. The remaining nine months (February – October) will be spent on intensive post-field data analysis and curation.

PI: Julius Ivwoba Arerierian, South-Western Edoid Institute in Nigeria
Collaborators: Akpobome Diffre-Odiete, Augustine Oborakpororo Omohwo, Oghenenyerhovwo Odogun