This one is not exactly AfriGadget, more like an AfriToy, but we love the story nonetheless. The video reporter Ruud Elmendorp visited the small village of Tabaaka, near Kakamega, in western province Kenya. Below is a video showing the master carvers at work, creating soapstone figures of The Simpsons characters. The carvings are available for online purchase through the CraftVillage website. Please click on the image below to view the video.
Al-Jazeera also covered the story last year, focusing on the economic boost of the Simpsons movie on the village, as it saw an increase in the number of orders for the carvings. It is the confluence of popular culture and African handicraft that we particularly enjoyed when it came to this story. If we had our way we would have soapstone carvings of Strongbad! One day.
PS: AfriGadget will have a monthly feature on The World Technology Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. The first issue is now posted. Many thanks to Clark Boyd, the AfriGadget team is quite excited about this.
18 thoughts on “Simpsons Carvings from Kenya”
That’s fantastic! Who knew the iconic Simpsons could have such an impact in even a small village in Kenya. As you say, it’s great to see the “confluence of popular culture and African handicraft”!
It’s cool (knowing nothing about this), I would have to guess they are not paying any kind of rights fees to the owners of the Simpsons brand, etc. I’d ask that we show a little discretion in promoting something like this when what they are doing is most probably illegal. At the very least acknowledge that they are doing this without purchasing the legal rights to even make them.
This obviously could all be a moot point if they did purchase the rights to do it, but I highly doubt it.
Brett Murray make a public sculpture in Cape Town with Bart Simpson heads attached to a traditional curio. Somehow, he made these figures look more African than Western, as do these.
Taylor’s comment. At the 55 second mark of Elmendorp video piece, the journalist explains that the Briton got the license from the the film company. It’s right there in the video.
Good to know. Thanks for correcting me. It’s great to know that they took that step, you see that rarely.
I love this story, and Ruud is an exceptional video journalist. It would be fun to do a story sometime on all of the western-related curio products found around Africa.