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“Apply Nairobi ingenuity and waterproof your house!”
Talking about reusable materials, here’s another popular reuse: a football / soccer ball made using old plastic bags, newspapers and sisal string. Demonstrated by the kids at The Nest Home, a children’s home in Limuru, Kenya:
It’s cheap, it works, it wins! 🙂
We actually prefer these creative toys as the kids learn how to MAKE things – instead of just buying cheap Chinese toys.
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.
Amid the squalor in one of Kenya’s most depressing slums, there is a surprising amount of flashy colour and fun
Njuguna makes these toys because he like to! His clients are local people in the slum but he does sell well outside of that market too.
I was especially enthralled by this scrap metal motorbike but the price was Ksh 2,500 (US$ 30) which may have been a special price for visitors like me – I couldn’t afford it!
Scrap metal gocart – boys in heaven!
Njuguna also makes beautiful micro toys for a specialist corporate market – they had been sold but he had photos
You guessed it – client was Safaricom!
Amongst all the toys were some other serious gadgets that Njuguna had put together for no specific reason -a couple of free standing windmills rotate rapidly in the narrow streets that channel the wind. They stand there like artistic monuments, but Njuguna told me that he made these constructions made from parts taken from broken cars and had put them out and was waiting for an idea to strike him regarding what to apply them to. He called it his research experiment. … somewhere else lay another of his inventions, a waterpump …..(should I have suggested something?)
Kids play by open sewer in Mathare Valley
Visiting Kibera was disturbing in so many ways
….and yet it was thoroughly invigorating and inspiring – a pleasant surprise . If you ever get a chance, do visit and seek out the Njuguna’s tucked away in narrow streets. These brilliant artists and innovators might live in what seems like the worst hell on earth, yet somehow it feels like they choose to.
(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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