• Refreshment, brews and artwork are some of the uses that can be derived.
• The nut can also be used to make coconut oil, which is used in cooking. The oil can also be used to apply on the skin or on your hair.
To start with, the liquid in the coconut is used as a refreshment, when the coconut is still at its early stage, where the coastal people call it ‘dafu’.
This has benefited many people in Mombasa, as some of them only venture into this type of business to make a living, just selling the coconut juice.
The juice has some health benefits, as it contains essential nutrients. At its early stage, there is only water in it. When it is fully ready, the nut, whitish in colour, is grated and the component squeezed and added with water to make coconut milk, which is mostly used by the coastal people to cook food to add some flavour in the food.
The coconut tree can also make coconut brew, where the part which should sprout to be a coconut is cut and a bottle is tied to it so the liquid is stored in the bottle and, thereafter, it is fermented.
The nut can also be used to make coconut oil, which is used in cooking. The oil can also be used to apply on the skin or on your hair.
The tree itself, when it is no longer productive, is cut into small pieces of wood, which is used in construction. The coconut leaves are used to roof houses, where many hotels at the coast use them to attract more tourists because it creates the coastal feeling.
After grating the nut for food, some use the hard part, known as the endocarp, as firewood, while others throw them away as they are no longer of use to them.
Believe me when I tell you there is no waste in a coconut tree.
FROM WASTE TO ART
To Collins Otieno, however, the endocarp is not a waste product. Neither does he use it as firewood. To him, it is a treasure.
He uses the endocarp to come up with great pieces. From making sugar dishes, candle stands, water glasses, decorations to soap dishes, just to mention a few, Otieno makes what most people term as waste product into masterpieces.
His accident two years ago, which got him hospitalised for four months and left him walking with crutches, prompted him to think of this great idea. He was very idle and stressed up with nothing to do.
Otieno looked at the endocarp one day and thought of making something, which would make people happy and also keep him busy. This was last year.
Even though Otieno says it requires a lot of thinking to make something beautiful.
“It does not take a lot of money to make these pieces but it takes a lot of creativity, and the mind easily gets worked up,” he said.
It takes him three to four days to make one piece. He sells them at Sh400-500, depending on where he is selling his pieces, either around his neighbourhood or in hotels.
The greatest sale he made is when he sold eight candle stands to a hotel. This made him very happy and gave him the courage to continue with what God had shown him as his talent, which he had not discovered since he was born.
He collects the endocarps but to make great pieces, he buys a whole coconut so he can come up with what he wants. He uses a hacksaw to cut this coconut into any shape he desires because breaking the coconut the way it is normally broken would mess up what he wants to make.
While making his pieces, there is nothing wasted. The dust, which comes out when he is cutting the endocarp, he uses it with glue to join up some parts. Some pieces that end up getting destroyed, he uses them by joining them to come up with something else.
“These small pieces I use as handles by joining or stands,” he said. After finishing a piece, he decorates it further by painting it. He can write anything his customer desires. All these pieces he creates from his imagination.
Problems faced include funding to buy advanced equipment, which would help him create his pieces to perfection. This equipment costs more than Sh37,000, which he lacks at the moment.
He is, however, hopeful that things will be smooth as time goes by and he will see himself at another level.
His difficulty in moving from one place to another due to the injury he suffered during his accident has been a great problem he is facing in marketing his product, therefore, hurting his sales.
He advises on self-belief in the work one does, which will make one achieve a lot in life.
“Have confidence in the work that you do and never doubt your hard work because it pays,” Otieno said.