There’s Big Fortune In Bladesmithing – Mubi Youths
As locally made kitchen knives continue to lose glory in the household chore to imported one from China, our reporters spoke with some local bladesmith in Mubi town of Adamawa State, who explained their bid for survival amid security men blockade while in the transit, and also difficulties in doing the business.
Knife-making for domestic purposes is one of the major job providers to youths in Mubi, Adamawa State, where they meet in their tens at certain neighbourhoods of the commercial town to do the blacksmith work. A brand knife popularly called “Yar-Mubi” found its way from the area to many cattle markets across Nigeria, and beyond. The job previously engaged by middle and elderly persons, is gradually being taken over by youths and children.
Areas like Tike, Kwaccham, Gaya, Monjiva, Kekeva, Arahan kunu in Mubi town, were identified as the leading centres in the profession.our reporters learnt that stainless iron, usually bought as scrap from iron dealers, is the main commodity used in making the knives. Knife merchants who take the commodity to other markets in Nigeria source the precious iron that is used in making the knife from cities like Aba, Onitsha and Lagos in the South, and also Kano or Kaduna in the North, and sell it to the Mubi, bladesmiths for reproduction.
Another component used in the product is the wooding handle of the knife which is being sourced locally from some specific trees. A certain tree known as Girgama in the local dialect is one of them. It is being sourced by the fire wood dealers who would go into the bush, in the outskirts of the town, and supply them to the bladesmiths. There are various divisions of labour at the centres. While some youths engage in knife smelting, others engage in making the knife shine, as it has been done with harmer smelting, using a shaping tool.
Yet others would engage in craft work using the specific wood to produce the knife handle. There are others who adorn the handle with marks based on the needed design, using hot tools in making the handle change from its natural colour to black. In the past, bladesmiths in Mubi used olden techniques in firing the chuckhole which has been used in most of the work. But this method has gradually waned off nowadays, with the introduction of fan-powering by battery, and lately solar system energy.
Abdurrahman Adamu, one of the bladesmiths at Kwaccham centre of the town, said he spent about 5 years in the profession, and he specialised in knife-shaping. He said in a single day, he shapes about one thousand knives, charging three naira on each. From the proceeds of the job, Adamu takes care of his children’s education, and other family demands. Abdurrahman further said that before, they used to take the product to Maiduguri in Borno State, from where the knife merchants would take it to neighbouring countries like Cameroun, Niger, Chad and even Sudan.
“But all these have stopped now since the beginning of insecurity brought by Boko Haram terrorism.” He said they have now restricted their market to areas like Sokoto, Katsina, Lagos, Aba, and Port Harcourt, among others. According to him, one of their major problems is restriction from the security men that they encounter while in the transit, which at times ends up with seizing the product. He is, however, quick to add that some of the security men are good at understanding their business and leave them to continue with their journey.
“At times they even demand us to produce a special knife for them known as “Rambo” and in other areas, we take our knives into barracks to sell to them,” he added. ‘Yar-Mubi’ knife goes with its design cover which is made from sheep skin leather. Abubakar Muhammad spent about 20 years in the profession, and explained about the needed commodity in making it.
“We curve the knife cover from an empty carton based on its size and shape. Then we apply sheep skin leather over the cover, using starch to seal it.” He said he makes about three hundred knife covers on daily bases, charging fifty naira for each. “I made a lot of fortune through the business; that includes sponsoring my education from primary to secondary school level. I also got marriad with the proceeds of this business and so far, I am blessed with three children,” he explained.
Adamu Abubakar, another knife producer, who spoke to our reporters on saturday, said apart from taking care of their family demands, they contribute in revenue generations of the local government authority there, and Adamawa State in general. “Just recently, one of the revenue agencies met us here, demanding every one of us to pay ten thousand naira each. But we had to resist the demand as it was beyond what we could afford. It’s contrary to what we used to hear from some quarters, where government interventions to entrepreneurs Abubakar concluded.