This is the coconut broom that my father brought from Guyana in the mid-1980's. It was one of the few objects that he brought, since he came from a large, poor family that resided in "the country." There were not too many reminders of his childhood because his family could not even afford a camera. Hence, he brought the coconut broom because it was a familiar reminder of back home. Additionally, it was thought to provide a "cleaner sweep." Often, Guyanese immigrants brought mostly useful items that they thought they would not find in America, such as large pots and in this case, a coconut broom. The coconut broom is made by extracting the stems of the leaves from a coconut palm tree. The stems are usually held together by a ribbon or a strong piece of string or straw. The broom is usually used in the house in its early days when the bristles are still soft and wispy, as seen in the following images. As the broom ages, the bristles begin to break at the ends and the broom becomes shorter and firmer. At this point, it is ideal for use outdoors in one's front or backyard.
The coconut broom is a powerful symbol in Guyanese heritage because it represents the utility of the coconut palm tree. Every part of the coconut palm tree was used in Guyanese people's daily lives. It was used to create cooking oil, since other types of oil were not created or imported at the time, and it was also used to feed livestock, create milk, make hair products, and build canoes.
– Melissa Aziz