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Made in the Gambia: Palm leaves broom

My Magazine 2022/09
2 min
The local broom is a unique type of broom made of palm leaves. Many Gambians use this type of broom to clean their house and compound. The classical type is a bend-down broom, but since the wooden handle was introduced, you can see two types being sold in the market.

The process of making a local broom starts by gathering palm leaves from the palm tree. It can be a coconut or palm tree. Then the leaves are removed from the stem holding it. Local women use a knife to slice the leaf off the small stem. After removing everything, the stems are left to dry, after which they are beaten using special methods to remove the remaining of the leaves, leaving a clean, smooth stem. The stems are then packed together and tied into a bundle with a rope. The bundles are in different sizes, being sold for different prices.

These bundles are sold in the market or local stalls. Small sizes cost GMD 25 to GMD 35, and bigger sizes cost GMD 50 to GMD 60 depending on the broom's quality. The quality depends on the process of preparation. Some broom makers would not clean the broom properly, and some won't let it dry properly. These types of brooms will shed the remains of leaves when you are cleaning.

Aside from cleaning, the broom has great importance in African society. It signifies unity and harmony. It reminds families to always be united and stand together during a crisis. The great African proverb states ˝If you are united like the broom, no one can break you˝.

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