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Treasures in the dump. Exhibition of African toys
I’m still making my Ethiopian dolls in my free time. This interest little by little drove me to investigate more about African dolls and African toys in general and I’ve started to develop some ideas that I want to turn into full projects. Ah, so many projects, so little time…
It believe that when you have a strong wish, somehow things start to happen that slowly lead you to your goal, maybe because you are more receptive and have your eyes open to capture what destiny throws you in your path.
Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I was reading the other day about a book written by an Italian-Somali woman and ended up in the web site Nigrizia that then led me to the site of an African Museum in Italy that now has an exhibit about African toys. I was so pleasantly surprised by it!
This exhibit is named “Tesori nella discarica. Mostra di giocattoli africani (Treasures in the dump. Exhibition of African toys) and is about the toys that children from Africa make from discarded material. The exhibition collects toys from various African countries: Egypt, Congo, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and of course Ethiopia.
The toys were made ​​by children, from discarded material such as rusty tins, beach slippers, bicycle inner tubes, wood, and pieces of fabric. To complete the exhibition, there is an installation of the contemporary artist Afran.
If you live in in Europe, the exhibit is taking place in Verona, Italy and will be open until September 18th 2011. I wish I could go…
I have seen toys made by children when we were in Ethiopia but didn’t capture anyone in film, which now I regret..
If you want to see some extraordinary creations made by African children and adults, I recommend you to check the site Afrigadget where you can find things like this:

An SUV made from a plastic bottle

Remote controlled car
A remote controlled car

Tin cars
Cars made out of tin cans

Also check out “Children’s Toys from Africa”, an UNESCO publication (In .pdf format) from the amazing site of Arvind Gupta that has many ideas to create toys from discarded objects while you learn about science. It has instructions on how to make simple toys, articles, books, and films about handmade toys.

Children’s Toys from Africa

There are also some books about African toys:

Africa on the Move
Africa on the move : toys from West Africa
Jouets des enfants d'Afrique
Jouets des enfants d’Afrique : Regards sur des merveilles d’ingéniosité by Michel Massal and Marie-Françoise Delarozière (in French)
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams

Other Links:

African Homemade Toy Trucks from Mozambique
African toys photographed in the 1950s
The Art of Play: Recycled Toys from Around the World
Dolls on flickr
Recycling in the Global Marketplace
Creative Recycling From Africa
North African and Saharan Children’s Toys
Musee du Jouet, France (.pdf)
Make your own recycled toys