Acholi toy bicycle

Acholi toy bicycle
Other views of this artifact:


Accession Number:
1998.9.3 .1 .2
Country:
Uganda , [Sudan]
Region:
Masindi District Kibanda County Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement [Southern Sudan]
Cultural Group:
Acholi?
Maker:
Kemish Richard
Date Made:
By 1997
Materials:
Iron Metal , Textile , Cotton Yarn Plant , String
Process:
Recycled , Covered , Wound , Stitched , Woven , Hammered Bent Tied Twisted
Dimensions:
[.1] Ht = 371, W between wheels = 242; diam wheels = 160, th = 5.4; head diam = 55, L handlebars = 160, Ht handlebars = 150 mm; [.2] L = 731, diam rod = 5.4 mm [RTS 16/5/2005].
Weight:
[.1] 720.8 g; [.2] 157.3 g
Local Name:
cal gari
Other Owners:
Made by the schoolboy Kemish Richard using scrap metal given to him by the deputy commandant of the settlement and cloth 'scrounged' from a tailor in the trading centre; purchased from him by Tania Kaiser 1997; sold to PRM on 19th January 1998 for 6 [RTS
Field Collector:
Tania Kaiser
PRM Source:
Tania Kaiser
Acquired:
Purchased 19 January 1998
Collected Date:
1997
Description:
Toy bicycle with rider [.1] and separate iron stick to push the object [.2].

The toy bicycle [.1] consists of at least 2 pieces of metal wire, twisted together and bent into a rectangular frame, covered over with strips of faded dark bluish grey cloth. Opposite sides of this have been tied onto an iron rod using lengths of a twisted, 3-ply pinkish white string; the rod has been bent to form a horizontal axle, pushed out to form 2 undulating pedals at the centre, and bent into a wheel at either end. A Y-shaped handlebar has been attached to the front of the frame, similarly made of wire covered with strips of cloth, in this case, with the vertical element covered with strips of a shiny synthetic red fabric (Pantone 1955C) printed with a purple design, and a second type of material with green leaves, and red and orange flowers printed onto a purple background (Pantone 268C). The handlebars above have been covered with a plain white fabric, in which machine stitching is visible along some edges, with traces of another white fabric with fine blue pinstripes visible beneath. A human figure has been fastened onto the bicycle, with its feet bound over the pedals, its hands merging with the handlebars, and a piece of iron wire running from the top of the frame up the figure's back. This last piece has been further strengthened with an old rubber band around the junction of wire and frame. As the wheels of the bicycle move, the figure's knees move up and down and the figure appears to be pedalling forwards. The figure has been made from a wire core with cloth padding, covered over with different coloured pieces of material. This consists of a spherical head, covered with turquoise blue fabric (Pantone 7470C), pinched in at the neck with wire, and with simple eyes, nostrils and mouth stitched on in grey thread (Pantone Cool Gray 7C). Below is an upright torso with 2 arms extending in front, slightly flexed, and 2 legs bent at the knees, all wrapped round with a pinkish white material made from a stretchy fabric. The figure has been dressed over this 'skin' with a short sleeved shirt, made from the same purple, red, orange and green fabric that is used on the handle support, and a pair of long trousers made of a red fabric with a fine pink and black linear motif (Pantone 1955C). There is stitching down the 2 sides of the shirt and along the sleeves, at the tops of the legs, down the backs of the legs and across the 'feet' to fasten the strips around the pedal bars. The hands are poorly defined, but the pinkish white arm material stops just above the junction of arms and handles, exposing a lighter coloured yellowish buff fabric below which continues beyond this point. The figure has therefore been made by recycling at least 8 different types of cloth. It is complete, but the iron elements have traces of surface rust. This part of the object weighs 720.8 grams, and is 378 mm high, with a total width across the wheels of 242 mm. The figure has a head diameter of 55 mm; the handlebars are 160 mm long and 150 mm high, while the wheels have a diameter of 160 mm and are 5.4 mm thick.

The push stick [.2] is made from a long rod of iron, round in section, and bent into a slight curve at one end and an L-shape at the other. One end shows cutting marks, while the other has been partially covered in what looks like melted blue plastic. This is complete and intact, but has some surface rust. The rod is of the same size as the bicycle wheels, and probably came from the same source. It is 731 mm long and has a diameter of 5.4 mm, with a weight of 157.3 grams.

Made by the school pupil Kemish Richard when he was around 16, using scrap metal given to him by the deputy commandant of the settlement and cloth 'scrounged' from a tailor in the trading centre; he had learned how to make these toys in Juba, where they are common. He would normally sell these toys in the market at Bweyale, for around 3,500 Ugandan shillings, and use the money for his school fees. The Acholi name for the object is
cal gari, which means 'toy bike'. This example was purchased from him by Tania Kaiser 1997 and then sold to the Pitt Rivers Museum on 19th January 1998.

For details of Kaiser's work in Uganda, see: T. Kaiser, 1999,
Living in Limbo: Insecurity and the Settlement of Sudanese Refugees in Northern Uganda (Unpublished PhD), and T. Kaiser, 2000, UNHCR's Withdrawal from Kiryandongo: Anatomy of a Handover , New Issues in Refugee Research Working Paper No. 32, 1, 3.

Displayed in the exhibition 'Transformations - The Art of Recycling', Pitt Rivers Museum, 25th March 2000 to Easter 2002, and illustrated in the accompanying catalogue: T. Kaiser, 2000, "Making Do and Making Beautiful: Recycling in an African Refugee Settlement", in: J. Coote, C. Morton and J. Nicholson (eds),
Transformations, the Art of Recyclying, fig. 41 on page 47. There we are given the additional information that Kemish Richard was born in 1981, and that he had learned to make these figures in Juba where there was a steady market for such recycled objects amongst the expatriate community.

Rachael Sparks 29/8/2005.

Primary Documentation:
Day book entry - 20/1[/98]. D[onation]. MdA. [donor] TANIA KAISER. 1998.9. AFRICA, UGANDA, MASINIDI DISTRICT, KIRYANDONGO REFUGEE SETTLEMENT. Collection of objects collected by donor.

Accession entry
- Toy bicycle with rider. The rider is made from cloth wrapped around a metal frame, wears a flowery shirt and has features which have been stitched on. The bicycle and handle are made from twisted cylindrical lengths of metal. When the toy is pushed along, the legs of the rider and the wheels of the bicycle move [CW 1/4/1998].

RDF 1998.9: Acquisition Record, dated 19/1/1998, for 'collection of material from Uganda'. Memo dated 21/1/1998 from Jeremy Coote to Julia Cousins, dated 23/1/1998 regarding enclosed invoice for £150 from Tania Kaiser for 'collection of artefacts from Northern Uganda'. This object appears on an attached list as item 3: "Cal. Toy bicycle with rider. Made by Kemish Richard from scrap metal given to him by the deputy commandant of the settlement. Acquired the scraps of cloth from a tailor in the trading centre. Learnt how to make these toys in Juba where they are very common. He is a primary schoolboy (about 16) and occasionally makes toys like this and takes them to the market at Bweyale where he sells them for approx. 3, 500 USh and uses the money for school fees. Cal gari - lit. toy bike". This is annotated "With long metal handle". Purchased by the PRM for £6. There is also a typed document on file, titled "Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Masindi District, Uganda. Background to objects collected from a predominantly Sudanese Acholi community in 1997 by Tania Kaiser". The refugee settlement is described as being 14 kms from Kiryandongo town, near Bweyale and Nyakadot. The population is predominantly Acholi, but other groups represented there include Latuko, Madi, Bari and some Zande. There is a small market within the settlement itself, but many people go to the market at nearby Bweyale. Access to the necessary materials for local production of objects can be a problem. There is a blacksmith's workshop in the settlement, used for making new items when materials are available, otherwise for repairs and modifications [RTS 15/12/2003].

Pitt Rivers Museum label - AFRICA, UGANDA, MASINDI DISTRICT; SUDANESE ACHOLI? Toy bicycle with rider, made from scrap metal and cloth by Kemish Richard, aged 16. Coll. Tania Kaiser 1997, 1998.9.3 [plastic tag with metal eyelet, tied to bicycle, RTS 10/3/2005].

Display History:
Displayed in the exhibition 'Transformations - The Art of Recycling', Pitt Rivers Museum, 25th March 2000 to Easter 2002 [LP 7/6/2000].

Publication History:
Illustrated in: T. Kaiser, 2000, "Making Do and Making Beautiful: Recycling in an African Refugee Settlement", in: J. Coote, C. Morton and J. Nicholson (eds), Transformations, the Art of Recyclying, fig. 41 on page 47. There we are given the additional information that Kemish Richard was born in 1981, and that he had learned to make these figures in Juba where there was a steady market for such recycled objects amongt the expatriate community (LP 21/6/2000; RTS 4/11/2004).

 
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