Cement-bag Bellows in Lamu

I was in Lamu in June and came upon a metal workshop tucked away behind the front row of buildings on the main path from Lamu Town to Shela. Inside were two blacksmiths, Adam Marabu and Abdul Ahmed, working diligently at creating a new anchor. What caught my eye though, was the bellows. They had taken old cement bags and hooked them up to metal pipes in the floor that fed air into the make-shift furnace.

Here’s a short video with some footage of them at work:


Lamu Cement-bag Bellows (AfriGadget) from WhiteAfrican on Vimeo.

One of my favorite stories on AfriGadget was the other unique bellows I found, this time in Nairobi, made out of an old bicycle. Both of these go examples go to show what can be done with very little. It’s about improvising what you have and overcoming a challenge.

Adam and Abdul make all types of items, but they told me that their main products are anchors, which range from small to large (2000-5000/= or $26-65) and, chisels and coconut shellers. They create a lot of the small metal pieces on the local dhows, and also make doors and window frames for the homes in the town. Really, they can make just about anything that you desire, like experienced metal workers anywhere in the world. What’s amazing is what they do it with.

Cement bag bellows and blacksmiths in Lamu Kenya
Cement bag bellows and blacksmiths in Lamu Kenya

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

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