Lone basket weaver finds new home

Mr Charles Alluang’a lived by the roadside for more than three years weaving baskets. And when the sun set, he lay his head by the very spot since he had no where else to go. The same spot also served as his store, where he kept heaps of raw material.

The 49-year-old from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County has woven hundreds of baskets using plastic material commonly used in wrapping bundles of second-hand clothes for wholesale.

The entrepreneur, who moved from his native home in Bunyore, Vihiga County in search of greener pastures, has braved bad weather and often harsh county askaris for days on end.

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But last Tuesday, the county administration relocated Alluang’a in a move that was criticised by a section of residents who feared the entrepreneur had been plucked out from his business.  

Today, the man who lives alone is weaving his baskets from a stall at the Eldoret 64 municipal market.  On Thursday afternoon, the Saturday Standard traced a jubilant Alluang’a to his new stall, No 42.

“Council askaris picked me up and relocated me from the St Luke, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital junction to this new area. I am happy that I am now housed and protected from bad weather,” he said.

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Alluang’a, however, said that despite the premise having no charges, he will be forced to find new ways to market his baskets. Most of his customers use the baskets they buy from him for tea picking.

Weaving and hawking

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“When I was by the roadside my baskets were booked by customers even before I could finish weaving them. Now I will have to weave and set days to hawk the baskets,” he said. The advantage, however, is that the weaver will easily access raw materials. He buys plastic weaving material from second hand clothes dealers at Sh500 per bag.

Alluang’a started weaving at 14 years, and weaves one to two baskets daily. “My father used to weave baskets using reeds and tough grasses. I started weaving using these plastic materials,” he said.

The man who pays his family - a wife and five children - a visit every December makes two distinct types of baskets, with smaller ones selling at Sh300 and bigger ones Sh600. The family resides in Bunyore, and Alluang’a is able to save about Sh4,000 monthly to cater for their needs.

Mostly seen in one set of clothes, Alluang’a has no other belongings apart from the plastic wrapping material that is his raw product. He says the stall will also serve as his new home.

“I do not need any other wares, and I will be sleeping here. I do not cook and only buy food when I get hungry; I prefer tea and cake for breakfast, lunch and supper,” he said. Emily Kogos, the Executive member for Trade, said her department decided to relocate Alluang’a for safety.

“The basket weaver is enterprising and has been doing his business for long hours, which is commendable. He was exposed to dangers of traffic along the busy road, and his raw materials posed an environmental challenge to locals,” she said.

Ms Kogos added that her department will monitor Allunga’s trade and health to ensure he thrives.

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