Pennisetum Purpureum or better known as Elephant Grass

Pennisetum Purpureum or better known as Elephant Grass

The straw is the main material used in producing a Bolga Basket.  It is obtained from a tropical grass commonly known as elephant grass.  The local names include Nanchem Gulu, Kulukata, Kpenpening and Kulkara.  The grass grows along banks of rivers. streams and swampy areas.  The grass grows, matures and tussles just like wheat.  The straw then tussles with a broom-like flower at the top, matures by growing longer and bigger.  To harvest the straw, each broom of straw is held with the left hand and pulled down from the husk that encloses the straw with the right hand.  It breaks at the end leaving the husk on the grass for further tussles. A nib between the forefinger and the thumb cuts off the flower at the top of the straw.  This is done to every single piece of straw.  The straw is harvested wet.  This is sun-dried and is ready to go through the weaving process.

Different lengths and thicknesses are used for different parts of the basket.  The weaver carefully selects the appropriate straw for the different parts of the bskt.  The ability of the weaver to select the most appropriate straw goes a long way to coming out with a good basket

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