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Supermarket attendants refused to touch my banana bag, Brave innovative girl speaks

Young Women By Phares Mutembei
Materi Girls High School student Hilda Gacheri
  • Ms Bundi became the centre of attention as well as ridicule when she carried her banana bag to a supermarket in Nkubu, ready to do her shopping
  • She made the bag from "macooro", a Kimeru word for dry banana fibre.

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. And so faced with the dilemma of how to carry her personal effects back to school following the plastic bags ban, Hilda Bundi decided to borrow a leaf from her ancestors.

As her peers across the country trooped to the shops to buy alternative containers, the Form Three student of Materi Girs in Tharaka Nithi County decided to use dry banana stalk bark to make her own.

Ms Bundi became the centre of attention as well as ridicule when she carried her banana bag to a supermarket in Nkubu, ready to do her shopping.

She made the bag from "macooro", a Kimeru word for dry banana fibre.

"The banana stalk is mostly used to carry yams to the local markets. I thought it would do when it came time for my shopping," she explained.

Bundi, from Kiria village near Nkubu town, said her parents had no money and she did not want to waste resources buying bags in town.

"We have planted bananas at home. I spent only 30 minutes working on my bag. I went with it to a supermarket in Nkubu to do my shopping and headed back to school," she said, clearly proud of her idea to not only save money but also make the best use of the environment.

"All of us should contribute in our own small way to rid the country of plastics, which are an environmental hazard. We should avoid plastics at all costs as they degrade the environment," she said.

"There is a specific banana stalk that is more long lasting. I had to soak the leaves in water for about two minutes first. I then made them into a round shape to be able to put the goods in. But I had to make sure I did not expose the 'bag' to too much sunlight as that would have made it weak."

Bundi confessed that it took courage for her to carry her bag all the way to the market and to school as the people she met on the way looked at her "funnily".

Boys laughed

"On my way, I encountered boys who laughed at me, probably wondering what a Materi Girls student was doing with traditional materials. Some women from the market also confronted me and asked if I was a witch. They ordered me to burn the bag!"

Bundi reminded them that the Government had banned plastic bags and told them she was similarly serious about conserving the environment.

"Maybe during the holidays I will take time off to educate them on the materials that harm our environment," she said.

But what shocked her was when the supermarket attendants refused to touch her bag when she wanted them to put her goods into it.

"When I entered the supermarket, no one wanted to be near me! The attendants refused to pack my items so I had to do it on my own. I paid for my goods and left, leaving many shocked, and probably gossiping!" she said laughing.

Lydia Bundi, her mother, said the teenager learnt how to make banana fibre yam wrappers from her late grandfather.

"It was no big deal for her to use the materials because she learnt to do it a long time ago, from her grandfather. I was not at home when she made the bag," she said.

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