Period before 1882 and onwards
Princess Iyiomon grew up in the West African rainforest belt. In her blogs she gives accounts of the usefulness of the rainforest to the peoples of the Kingdom of Benin. Her adventures included gathering food, materials for making household utensils, materials for making clothing, medicines, hunting animals for food and many more. She also names exotic rainforest animals she encountered on her rain forest adventures.
The rainforests have remained a great source of the above for the world today. Scientific research of effects of deforestation including green house effects and extinction of rare species of animal provide good reasons why the peoples of the rainforests all over the world revered and protected it before commercialisation set in.
Here are a few examples of human continuing dependence on the rainforests and why it makes sense to continue to protect them.
Made from refined palm oil
Refined from the palm oil
Palm oil –
From the pulp of the fruit
Nut oil –
From the nut after the pulp is removed
Local bridges –
Stem of palm tree is used to make local bridges
From the leaf spines in the centre of the leaf
Household items – baskets, mats,
Made from woven palm tree leaves
Palm wine –
Mild alcoholic drink got from the sap of the tree.
Fuel source –
Shells are burnt to make fire.
Body and hair oil are made from palm oil derivatives.
A drink made from cocoa seeds that are in the pod
Made from ground cocoa seeds (powder is mixed with sugar, milk and other ingredients like vanilla)
Dark chocolate is used to help patients with heart problems (cardiovascular ailments)
Cocoa cream –
Cocoa butter made from processed cocoa powder
Cocoa butter is also made into soap
Medicinal soap –
Black soap made from ashes of roasted cocoa pods is used for treatment of various skin disorders
Lip balms –
Made from cocoa seed oil
Body creams, hair shampoo and conditioners ,
Body oil are made from cream and oil of cocoa
Coconut oil –
Pressed from the fruit encased by the shell in the pod.
Coconut milk –
Juice from the pressed fruit encased by the shell in the pod.
Coconut water –
Water in the middle of the shell ( good for dehydration)
Desiccated coconut –
Shredded coconut fruit used in cooking e.g. baking,
Coconut cream –
Pressed from the fruit encased by the shell in the pod used in cooking e.g. spicing rice
Long Brushes –
Made from the straws
Door mats -
Made from the fibre which encase and protect the coconut shell and fruit
Necklaces, rings, ear-rings, bracelets, brooches are made from coconut shells
Household utensils – e.g. cups, plates, ornaments, made from coconut shell
Other equipment –
Made with coconut leaves – baskets, trays, handbags
Discarded shells are burnt and used for making fire.
Body creams, hair shampoo and conditioners , soap,
body and hair oil are made from coconut oil derivatives.
His Majesty Oba Ovonramwen (1888 – 1914) closed all British trade routes in the 1880s to these rainforest products and this led to the sequence of events resulting in murder, ambush, punitive expedition and looting of Benin bronzes. Ironically the Benin bronzes arrival in England, Europe, America and the rest of the world shed a new light on Africans and their abilities. They continue to do so today.
See more rainforest products and their uses on this link: