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Cameroon: Inventors, Makers and Creators

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon, Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Ideas

A post on AfriGadget [1] blog brought to our attention the work of few Cameroonian craftsmen and makers through videos taken by Bill Zimmerman of 27 months [2], a blog documenting “Cameroon from a technologist's point of view”.

Metalworker collective [3] by Bill Zimmerman [4] CC/By-NC-SA [5]

The first group of craftsmen we'll check out are the blacksmiths  Mr. Zimmerman writes about in The Extraordinary Makers of Maroua [6]. They melt down scrap metal to make utilitarian items they can sell for less for a fraction of the cost to purchase their imported counterparts. Not only do they copy parts, but they also modify and improve designs, even making their own tools: notice for example the bellows made with a bicycle wheel at the beginning of the 1st of 3 videos.

Several dozen men with specialized skills are gathered here for a single purpose: to transform piles of scrap iron into finely finished tools, stoves, replacement parts and other useful implements for sale to the local population. Young apprentices learn the craft while operating bellows or shaping wood for tool handles. The production here is performed entirely by hand and on a scale which must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Another one [7] of Mr. Zimmerman's videos was taken during the 2009 Agro-Pastoral Show in Limbe, SW Cameroon. In it, a maker shows his home made, low cost egg incubator:

In the same Agro Pastoral show he also stumbled upon another craftsman [8] that caught his eye:

Amid all the displays, one guy stood apart with some creations that can only be described as a near perfect marriage of form, function, green design and a borderline obsession with bamboo. Lekuama Ketuafor is the proprietor of Bamboo Magic, a one-man cottage industry he’s started to supplement his work as a teacher.

In the accompanying video [9] you can see the eye-catching artist wearing head to toe bamboo showing off two of his products: a cell phone casing and a laptop case also made out of the woodsy grass.

You can read more about these and other Cameroonian entrepreneurs in Bill Zimmerman's blog 27 months [10].