Many things that we, here in North America, would buy from a department store, are available along the roadsides in Kenya. People make chairs couches, ladders, and a host of other things. There are also repair shops that can fix almost anything. Everything from can openers to microwaves can have a second or third life. Many of these things arrived in Africa as used items. My fiance's mother has made her living for 30 years, as a seller of clothing that was once for sale at Value Village. It's bought in big bales. The ladies who sell this stuff often dismantle damaged items and they remanufacture it into useful clothing. So, instead of just sitting there, waiting for customers to come, they occupy themselves with needle and thread or a small sewing machine, repurposing fabric that might go to waste in wealthier countries. Sometimes, they get out their tape measure, and alterations are within the hour so that the clothing will fit the new owner. The measurements are taken, and then the person buying the item, continues shopping at the outdoor market, returning when they are finished, to find that the new dress or whatever is finished.
One guy was making frames for couches. He has a few display models with fabric on them, but most people come and choose their frame and then they choose the foam and fabric that they would like to go with it. Many of the Fabrics used, look like something that we would have used here in 1975, but each to his own. Fabric colors are as varied as the ladies dresses. Many customers are quite familiar with woodworking, so they like to see how things are put together. I watched one old guy examine the dowel joints and other joinery. He spoke just enough English to tell me, "It's good. Strong."
One of the strangest things sold along the roads, are coffins. Being a former British colony, they have gone in for very European type funerals. They range from pretty expensive, to very cheap. Many people are shopping at the bottom of the market, so the sellers have plenty to accommodate them. Customers can bring their own wood, and get a considerable discount. Many farmers grow enough eucalyptus, to supply all of their own needs and then some.
A guy came by the hairdresser shop, where I had been waiting patiently for 2 hours. He was selling a variety of bent wire jewelry. I told him I was stuck waiting for my fiance, so if he wanted to bring me some wire and tools, I would show him some of my designs. I made the items shown. Most of his designs were more intricate. The ladies at the shop all agreed that the zig zag design is nice, because it won't get tangled in their hair. The guy picked up the tools and produced something similar to mine, with great speed. He agreed that he will add this one to his repertoire, because it's something he could sell for a few shillings and he could use up scrap pieces. We kept a couple items, and the others were added to his inventory. It was a fun way to pass the time.
I ducked out of the shop many times, to check out what was available. One lady awkwardly introduced me to her daughter. There's an assumption of great wealth when you come from afar. I was interrogated about this later, and was very surprised to learn that she assumed things like this were happening.
My fiance's aunt is quite wealthy by Kenyan standards and lives in this big house. There's more, but that's all that would fit into this picture.
She hires an excellent Carpenter who makes many things from scratch. On this day he was making door frames from rough sawn eucalyptus.
10 years ago, he made this dining room set. When I first saw it, I assumed that it was an import from England. He made it from raw material. I have some old planes and draw knives, that I am going to give to him at some point. This guy takes meticulous care of his tools. At lunch time, he took the blade out of the plane and made it perfect with a stone.
At one point I went to get a piece of scrap for him to use as a brace. I decided to hit the pile with a stick, before reaching in and a mamba snake slithered away.
Please do not shoot the fish in this barrel. But you can shoot at this tiny ad: