The National Chairman, Cane Weavers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Mark Ewhieberene, has admonished Nigerians to embrace locally made products for the economic and industrial growth of the Nigerian economy, in order to help develop small and medium scale business enterprises.

He made the call, recently, at the Cane Weavers village, Mende, Maryland, Lagos, while being documented as a Living Human Treasure (LHT) by the Research and Documentation Department, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Lagos office.

The cane village located under the bridge of Mende, Maryland in Lagos is a beautiful sight to behold with various forms cane products can take when made into furniture, displaying an array of beautifully crafted products made from canes are expressions of the rich African Cultural Heritage – different forms of household items including chairs, tables, baskets, baby cots, relaxation chairs, laundry baskets, beds, flower vases, etc.

On the question of their durability, Ewhieberene informed that cane products can last over 20 years, if properly maintained at home, explaining that there are two types of cane used for weaving: water cane used for weaving and tying and willow cane used for the main frame work of any product due to its stiffness.

With regard to the conceptualization of the designs, he said: “Most of what we produce are majorly from our imagination and foreign catalogues. We select the designs and practice them until they are perfectly done”.

On the issue of patronage, Ewhieberene said that people from within and outside the country come to buy their products with some exporting them to foreign countries, adding that, the present down turn in the economy, which has reduced the purchasing power of Nigerians, has greatly affected their sales.

In respect to trainees, he said people who are interested in the craft undergo a six-month training programme; they are encouraged to establish within the cane village; and then they are incorporated as members of the association, noting that it requires patience, passion, concentration, humility, strength, and creativity to prosper in the business of cane weaving.

According to Ewhieberene, finance is a major challenge to the business due to increase in the prices of raw materials and government policies, which have greatly affected the fortunes of the trade, and requested government to come up with favourable policies and soft loans to assist them, saying that with good policies and patronage, the cane business will be able to tackle the problem of unemployment.

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Lagos