African Children’s Toys: Ingenuity Starts at a Young Age

Most African children are forced to create their own toys from scratch. Below are some samplings of what they make with what’s available. Old tire inner-tubes, soda cans, mud, bailing wire and sticks are just a few of the materials used to create imaginative toys.

In just about every country in Africa you’ll find the boys making cars, motorcycles and airplanes out of tin cans and bailing wire:

Ghanaian Toys

The Coke Scooter

In Southern Sudan children use mud to create animals to play with. Below is a picture of a Cape Buffalo:

Mud toy buffalo

Multimachine — truck-parts-based machine shop for Africa

The MultiMachine Group at Yahoo! Groups carries plans for “The Multi-Machine” which is

an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be built by a semi-skilled mechanic with just common hand tools.

Open Source Multi-Machine

Multi-machines are 3 in 1 machines based on old car engine blocks (a 3-in-1 machine is usually a combination of a metal lathe, mill and drill press). The machines are designed such that they use the tolerances and engineering initially used to create the engine block that is re-purposed as the core of the tool to help guarantee that various components of the machine integrate with a high level of precision.

The machines have a design that not only allows them to be assembled using “elbow grease” but that also allow them to run on alternative power sources where mains electricity is not available. They are also easily adaptable to new purposes by adding on modules.

Plans to build a multi-machine can be found at this link at the The Open Source Machine website.

(via BoingBoing)

Homemade Windmill in Malawi

William Kamkwamba of Mastala VillageA young man has created a windmill out of spare parts in Malawi.

William Kamkwamba says one day while reading he came across two books, Using Energy and How it Works, which are about generation of electricity using a windmill.

On a trial and error basis, he managed to make a small windmill which generated electricity enough to light his dorm. Seeing its success he planned for a bigger one so that his parents could benefit and some well-wishers gave him money to get some of the materials he needed.

In total, he spent a total of 2200 Malawi Kwachas, which is equivalent to $16. William is saving his family money on home lighting expenses, recharges people’s mobile phones and radio batteries, and also charges his own automobile battery for backup power.

Unlike most windmills, where the propellers turn the spindle connected to the turbines directly, William added pulleys to his machine to increase speed thereby generating more energy.

There are three pulleys and the last is connected to a bicycle wheel. When this wheel turns, it spins a dynamo which in turn generates electricity.

Homemade Windmill Malawi

Story Link (via Hacktivate)

Water Buoy as a Water Tank

Marlies sends an email and pictures of a water buoy that has been converted into a water tank for drinking. Ingenious uses of materials that might seem odd to Westerners at first glance are common place in Africa. The picture was taken in Lamu, a small island off the coast of Kenya.

She says,

“I recently had a chance of spending some time in Lamu where i came across an interesting observation which made me think of AfriGadget. Here is a picture of a water suspender made out of a buoy – very neat idea!”

Water Buoy Faucet

If you have any pictures or stories of African ingenuity, send them to us at “main [at] thisdomain [dot] com”

The foldaway house.

Rajan Harinarain, a South African entrepreneur and inventor has come up with a temporary foldaway house for use in emergency situations complete with electrical wiring and fittings, doors and windows that can be erected by a small team in 5 minutes.

The patented structure weighs less than a ton, collapses to under a foot in height and can be modified with insulation/ventilation for hotter or cooler environments.

Foldaway House

Links to the complete story at:

South Africa Info
South African Engineering News