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.
It is one thing to drool over the coming digital age in Africa just by studying the numbers, charts and info-graphics. It is a whole other experience to encounter the early signs of all of those numbers and projections in real life. An even bigger experience when you stumble upon genius in the making right in your back yard.
Remember these kids that built their own toys? Turns out creative genius runs in my family. (Must have skipped right over me, this gift. Le sigh.)
As I was leaving my mother’s house in Masindi after an all too brief visit, I stopped into the boys quarters to say bye to my little brother and two of my nephews. They were busy listening to the radio and I was wondering where the radio came from cause certainly my mother wouldn’t afford them such a luxury.
My jaw dropped and Afrigadget logos started spinning above my head in excitement all cartoon-style! After pestering my mother to get them a radio for the room they used as their club house to no avail. They decided to just embark on building one themselves.
So while on holiday from school, my brother Caleb, 12; my nephews Ronald, 15 and Jesse, 12 rounded up some scrap parts and built what you see above in about a day. I didn’t have enough time to interview them properly, but man was I smiling all the way to Kampala.
Mind you that this was done out of curiosity and not some educational endeavor. Can you imagine what else Africa’s kids could build given even a slight revamp of the education system? With nearly 50% of our population under the age of 15, just how many curious minds are just waiting for an opportunity to do something like this?
As an aside, you can’t tell me you would have thought to use a jerrican as a boombox! That’s just beyond mad genius. Anyone know of cheap engineering kits I could get them to continue to play?
The balloon shows that gas is being produced. The costs for the drum and professional valves may already be too high for some, and the design isn’t that optimal. They intend to add a storage drum with a water-filled header tank for constant pressure and the loading & desludging processes obviously still require some work.
We still like the approach though, because it does indeed “prove the theory”, as David notes. The theory of building a rather small anaerobic digester that will even work with smaller amounts of organic waste.
Goes to show that producing methane gas from something which would otherwise remain unused (livestock faeces usually kept in such drums for a few weeks without harvesting the methane potential) still is an interesting alternative & well appreciated once costs are covered.
These are the kinds of stories and projects that you just can’t make up. We’ve written about Nigerian Mubarak Abdullahi’s home made helicopter a couple years ago from old car parts. It appears that 3 Somaliland men built a helicopter too, using scrap metal and an old van engine.
Much like the Nigerian one, there is no video footage of this one flying. It’s not easy to build a machine that looks and acts like a helicopter, but it’s a lot easier than making one that flies. It does take a lot of drive, thinking and skill to build even these models, but I won’t be truly impressed until I see a video of one taking off and landing.
“The trio, Mohamed Abdi Barkadle, Saed Abdi Jide and Abdi Farah Lidan said the purpose of their helicopter was to be used to fight fire in the city and surrounding area. They receive no major sponsors, financial nor material support from any one including the government, it is a three men vision and ingenuity.”
Now, the question is… Could we get the three (and the helicopter) to Maker Faire Africa in Nairobi this August?
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