I remember the incident in Idah (Kogi state) about 5 years prior as if it was yesterday. MitiMeth was in the process of being birthed and I was in the "R&D" phase for water hyacinth transformation. My cousin and I had gone to Ofiayi, one of the tributaries of the river Niger, to look for water hyacinth. He didn’t quite know what I was referring to but he went with me anyway. I spotted a few water hyacinth weeds floating by the edge of the river and told him that was what I was looking for. He used a stick to pull them ashore and I grabbed a few to take with me. When I got home, I met an Uncle who exclaimed in Igala “what are you doing holding Akp’iye kp'oma?” I was a bit taken aback and puzzled because “Akp ‘iye kp’oma” translates to “killer of mother and child”. What????? I was curious as to how water hyacinth had now become a "killer of mother and child" in Idah. The story was that a mother had gone to the river to fetch water, wash clothes etc with her infant. She placed her infant down and started her chores. Unbeknownst to her, the infant found "water hyacinth" nearby, played with it, ate it and died. When the mother saw the dead infant with the "water hyacinth", she also ate the plant and died. A very sad and bizarre story! Instead of becoming fearful, I explained to the storyteller and listeners alike that the water hyacinth I was holding was not an “Akp’iye kp’oma. I hope they believed me. I also decided that I would use the alternate Igala name for water hyacinth, Inobo, which did not have any grim stories associated with it.
With the help of the same cousin, we were able to subsequently engage fishermen in the area to harvest the Inobo (water hyacinth). And with the help of another cousin engaged the rice farming communities in the Idah-Ibaji area to harvest and clear the water hyacinth disturbing them in the area. Inobo harvesting became a very popular alternate income generating activity such that the locals started putting up "charms" to discourage people from pilfering their Inobo harvest! In 2015, MitiMeth took another step forward in the Idah area. We decided to equip people with skills to actually make products with the harvested water hyacinth. We approached a local Church, UECN Idah, and an introductory training class held on May 15, 2015 with twenty (20) people in attendance. A July date was fixed for the proper hands-on training. Thirty two (32) people (young and old) showed up for training which was facilitated by a MitiMeth team member. The trainees were taught how to weave different sizes of rope (small, medium and large) and mats using Inobo.
By the end of the 1 week training class, the trainees had woven rope and some had made purses, pens and hand fans. Way to go! As at December 2015, we had 7 Artisans supplying MitiMeth with woven rope and mats and we are thrilled to integrate them into our supply chain. We look forward to doing more business.