cameroon tribune                                      Friday June 22. 2001

children exhibit know-how in making toys

The toys made by children and for children, if well developed, can help in the fight against poverty

Toys are indispensable in the life of any child. Besides serving as play things, they help in developing the psyche of children and help acquaint them with certain realities of life. They constitute the greatest presents for children and are indisputably the better past time for kids. The market for toys is therefore very big. It is for this reason that in the developed world, hundreds of industries are engaged in the production of toys. Creativity and variety is the order of the day. Wherefore the existence of toys of virtually all shapes, sizes and colour in the market. Today there is a toy representation of virtually all living things and objects, even the most recent technology such as the mobile telephone. Cameroon's Toys industry is not developed. Reason why each year, tons of toys are imported, especially from Asia. These imported toys are usually expensive, most often beyond the reach of the common Cameroonian parent. But children have to and would want to play irrespective of the status of their parents. The only other way out for these children whose parents cannot offer them toys from shops is to put their creativity into work; make their own play things.

These locally made toys by children are many and varied. They are usually made from local materials such as bamboos and wood or articles gathered from dustbins. The children draw inspiration from their surroundings and produce a variety of objects. Such toys were exhibited last Wednesday at the Yaounde City Council by children of some 12 schools from the Centre, Littoral and South West provinces. This first presentation of children toys made by children was organised by an NGO called Dialogue in collaboration with the UNICEF. A variety of cars produced with bamboos, woods and iron rods were on display. The exhibition was also flooded with miniature dolls made from pieces of clothe, chairs, tables, cupboards, etc. According to one of the organisers, the exhibition will help in valorising local materials and the talents of the children. "They are cheaper and play the same role like toys imported from abroad", Mrs Mary Ntan, a teacher in Yaounde noted. To the organisers, the ultimate goal is to look for ways through which locally made toys can be produced at an industrial scale to satisfy the need of the local market. 'This will help in the Fight against poverty", she observed. If such a project is taken seriously, the toys can fetch millions of Francs CFA from abroad. In the USA for example, the market for toys stands at over CFA 52,500 billion with 89 per cent of the toys coming from China. The voting of the African Growth and Opportunity Act by Congress opens the way for wonderful trade opportunities with African countries. Cameroonian made toys can find their place in this huge market granted they are interesting, original and of good quality. No taxes will be levied on such goods by the American market, at least for the next eight years.




It would be better, to create and to satisfy the local market first.

Wolfgang Helmeth