An invention occurs when someone sees what others are seeing and decides to do what no one has done. That is also the story of the latest Nigerian inventor, who has re-invented raffia fibers in such a way no one thought possible before he showed us it was. He is no other but 40-year old Ojo Obaniyi.
The Ibadan-based artisan is supposed to be an ordinary weaver who makes a living from weaving baskets, chairs, flower vases, hats, etc, but no, he chose to stand out. So what did he do? He took his Volkswagen pick-up truck and customized it into a “raffia palm” car and put his name and phone number on it as the caricature of the vehicle’s plate number. Thus, making the vehicle a beautiful piece of art, and an innovation that has caught the admiration of many around the world. Ingenious right? And he says he still has many more crazy ideas like that written out in a book.
And by having fun with what he does best at the corner of a street in the ancient city of Ibadan in Western Nigeria, Obaniyi has risen to become an internet sensation at 40, and also the inventor of the world’s first handwoven car. Every part of the car got a makeover – the seats, the steering wheel, the dashboard, the tyre wheels, basically everything.
Obaniyi says the idea to cover his car with raffia was a strategy to attract more customers and also explore different ways to use the readily available raffia. He also says that he has many ideas about creating with raffia and has a book where he has drafted different designs with their measurements.
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Raffia palm fibres are straw harvested from palm trees that grow in abundance across Nigeria and inventing this master-piece took Obaniyi about a year to complete. The vehicle is still like every other vehicle and can be serviced and refueled from time to time. He is willing to train as many people who wants to learn the craft – graduate or not.
See some pictures of this world’s first handwoven car as created by Ojo Obaniyi:
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