Solution for Nairobi Blackouts

It’s no secret that Kenya’s rivers are running dry as a result of forest destruction and environmental degradation which has led to a season of blackouts in the capital city Nairobi.

Typical of the ingenious people of Nairobi one street vendor has cashed in on the crisis with this wonderful gadget which he markets as

“Perfect for Nairobi black out”

juakali lamp1

As you can see I could actually read by the light of this lamp which is made from a used tin can, some pieces of wire to make the connections

juakali lamp3

And the battery compartment is ingeniously crafted from a circle cut from a retired flip flop.

juakali lamp2

I love my juakali lamp and everyone that I know  in Nairobi needs one of these lamps. Everything about it is so true to the juakali spirit – hand crafted using colourful recycled tins, and designed for a real purpose with a handle so you can move it around from room to room or hang it up. The vendor tried to sell it to me for Ksh 350 but we settled on Ksh 200 (about $2.50) though I’m sure he would have gone cheaper but the traffic was moving and I had to go.

If you want one visit the Nyayo stadium roundabout.  They stood out amongst the chinese junk that vendors are selling you could practically kit out your house from the junk on sale there. Here’s a short list of what I saw during my 30 minute traffic hold up:

Pens, hats, footballs, blow up spiderman (who needs one of these?), peanuts wrapped in newspaper cones,

smelly car things, driveres licence holding cases, scarves, giant maps, Kenya flags, apples, kits (spiderman kites),

Nike shorts, cowboy hats, socks, oanges, backpacks, cheap watches, key chains knives, olympic medals (yes I wanted one of those!),

knee length shorts for guys who sag, hazard ttriangles, cables to cack your car, name tags for meetings, torches, window wipers (!),

car mats, pears, plumbs, tiny folding chairs for children (or Chinese people?), vehicle number plates, fire extinguishers, stickers,

Enormous framed pictures of furry cats and snow leopards (I can just see one of these this in my house), bananas and bandanas, plastic lunch boxes, pillows and cussions, a huge variety of stuffed toys,

posters with Jesus’ sayings, polo shirts, stearing wheel covers, spanners, screw drivers and of course my favourite – juakali lamps.

Nairobi never fails to impress. I love it. What else have you seen on sale in the Nairobi streets?

14 comments » Write a comment

  1. This lamp is fantastic! What kind of light source is inside the bulb? An LED?

    The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen for sale on NBO streets were little inflatable Santa Clause(s?).

    …but I guess the biggest shockers are still these “enormous framed pictures” with various (really trashy) themes.

  2. For some reason people are more comfortable commenting on Twitter than here ….some Comments I like

    @sciculturist v.ingenious in true nbi spirit! btw i love shopping on uhuru h’way. great variety, don’t need to look for parking or get up!

    @monseiurMo Perfect gadget for Nairobi blackouts. I’m getting myself one of those!

    @inteligensia i prefer candles meself but that right there is an ingenious lamp, might get one just for laughs.

  3. Hi JKE the lamp seems like a normal bulb but I can’t tell…I assume he could have used any but I suspect he chose the cheapest Chinese variety. I don’t think it can be changed either :(

  4. The PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) office in Nairobi has a wonderful wall display with a couple dozen tin dustpans made from all kinds of tin – Doom cans, Coke cans, etc, all arranged in a grid on the wall. The director bought on the street them back in the day (1990s?).

    I still have a Mwai Kibaki keyring I bought in the run-up to the 2002 election that Moi lost. Wow, was that ever a hopeful moment (cue the sad violins…).

  5. Do you have a photo or two showing the parts that make up the lamp? I am surprised it can be powered by just batteries.

  6. I like those things and like you said very handy during blackouts or even during camping (no hot gas lamp in your tent)
    A friend found it also at Nyayo stadium roundabout, as I never can find the guy with the lights, I wanted to let my juakali guys in Naivasha to make it. But they don’t have the big coffee power cans for the base……

    Maybe need to send somebody to the Naivasha city dumpsite (could need some clean up).

  7. My big curiosity here is whether the bulb is a 110, 220 or 12 Volt bulb and what sort of batteries, and how many are being used? Can anyone enlighten us?

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