Miniature versions of vehicles are as popular with kids in Cameroon as anywhere else. Adult craftsmen across the continent use materials such as wire, beads and recycled cans to create toy bicycles, trucks and airplanesmany of which transcend the level of children’s toys and are nothing short of art objects. Indeed, some of these creations are produced for corporate clients and international buyers.
No less ingenious and fascinating are toys created by and for kids themselves, usually from the simplest of materials and tools. This includes items like toy tractors (Kenya) and SUVs (Uganda) made from recycled plastic bottles.
In Cameroon, one such popular toy crafted by kids is a ‘remote controlled’ car or ATV. These are often built from discarded flip-flops (slippers), sardine tins, bamboo or raffia palm, electrical conduit (pipe), rubber and bits of string. A variation on this theme that incorporates a split bamboo steering column and a full-sized wire steering wheel was blogged by Steve in the northwest of the country.
It’s not difficult to spot toy cars like this being piloted by kids in Cameroonthe trick is usually being able to catch up with them to photograph one. A big advantage of this design is its ability to handle rough terrain when being driven at speed. The bamboo frame, chunky tires and rubber fasteners suck up bumps in the road like a 4WD Toyota. The proud builder of this R/C all-terrain vehicle paused long enough to demonstrate his creation for me.
Local school grounds in Sudan are a breeding pool for home grown games. The most popular seems to use any pole available, including those against walls, string & a soda bottle filled with rocks and dirt. Voila, you have a tetherball game at hand. About the only thing not found just laying around is the string and oddly enough that’s what needs to be replaced often, as can be seen by the photo with the variations in colored string.
[Editors note: these pictures were taken during a sand storm]
Another home grown game seems to bear some resemblance to cricket. They throw a small rubber ball at another person who tries to kick it. If they are successful they run between two pre-determined locations, stacking rocks/stones/bricks at each point, until the other team can return the ball to try and hit them with it.
Oddly enough, it seems volleyball is another popular sport. I know of at least four schools which have installed volleyball nets
(The following series of images were sent in by Teddy (aka TMS Ruge) a professional photographer and an all around amazing individual who runs Project Diaspora.)
The SUV was made from an old Cooking Oil container, I can’t remember the brand. The “top” is cut-out and they put other little belongs in there pulled it for hours. The wheels are made from old slippers, or sandles. Spokes from an old bicycle served as the axles. Banana stalk was used to pull the “vehicle”.
“That’s my niece, Chris and her friend, Geofrey are in the picture. They spent hours in their own world pulling it across the yard.”
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