by Louisa Twum-Baah

May 3, 2017

How raw hide is turned into various leather products

Animal skins are used for many things including drums, wallets, guitars and shoes.

Leather is a durable and flexible material created by tanning animal rawhide and skin, often cattle hide. It can be produced at different manufacturing levels, from a cottage industry to a heavy industry.

A dealer in local and imported leather, craftsman Mohammed Mustapha makes shoes, belts, sandals and a whole lot of items from leather at the Accra Art Center.

It is worth asking, ‘What goes into making items made out of leather?’

“Leather is used for many various goods which includes drums, trousers, bags, skirts, furniture covering, book binding and so on,” Mustapha said.

“I usually use and sell rawhide from cattle, goats and sometimes snakes. I acquire my rawhide from the slaughter house or abattoir. The hide is then processed into leather.”

Stretched animal skin/hide

“When we remove the skin or hide from the animal, we sometimes dry it before washing it with detergent powder and then [we] go ahead to treat it with chemicals. Local chemicals are made from the Bagawura seed.

“After the leather is processed, we usually dip or soak it in groundnut oil. This is to make the leather waterproof. We sometimes dye the leather and also create patterns in the leather.

“Apart from the locally made leather, we do import some of the leather from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and so on. We use different kinds of leather for various items. For example, a mature cattle skin can’t be used to make sandals or slippers because it’s hard, it’s rather good for belts and drums.

Drum is made with matured cattle hide

Mustapha shows a rawhide from a young cattle

The ideal leather for slippers is that of a calf, which is soft. Raw hides from calves are more colourful, the experts say.

“I also use goat hair for some of my slippers, which is dyed to get various colors.”


“I am a certified dealer in leather products,” Mustapha added. “One great thing about leather sandals and slippers is that it’s waterproof and dries faster apart from the fact that they are durable and fashionable.”

Mustapha’s certificate

Male slippers made with animal skin

By Louisa Twum-Baah|3news.com|Ghana

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