Sunday, July 19, 2009

Taking a trip to Suame Magazine

After a week spent mainly in the KCCR Seminar room and the Tek Hostel, it was time to take a trip into the heart of Kumasi, where the teams will be doing much of their work over the next few weeks. The participants were thrilled to finally get to see the fabled Suame Magazine, of which they have heard so much about over the past ten days. Our destination for the day was the Intermediate Technology Transfer Unit, in the heart of the Magazine. This is the working home of Crossman, and it was clear to see how delighted he was to be showing us around the place he is happiest in, the workshop!

Imagine 100,000 men like this, all working within a 20k radius of each other

A typical Suame workshop storeroom

Crossman himself gave us an introduction into the history behind the I.T.T.U. and how the centre came into existence. He told us that we were still “on KNUST soil” and the collaboration between these ingenious artisans from Suame and eager students from the University is perhaps the defining feature of Kumasi, and a small example of how co-creation can work at a localized level. The I.T.T.U. functions as a go-between in a sense as a means of making sure that technologies and techniques developed at the University make their way into the community. We also had the chance to meet the workshop managers we will be working with in the coming weeks and of course to try out some of the machinery on offer. A quick trip into the centre of the Magazine to ask some questions was to follow before heading into downtown Kumasi to pick up some materials for the projects, and some basic food supplies for the suites!

Crossman in full flow

Amy shares a joke with Miniver and Loveness

Grabbing some lunch

They didn't even pose for this shot, they were just THAT happy to be at Suame

Downtown traffic

The participants had the rest of the weekend off to let off some steam get to know both the surrounding area and their fellow participants a little better. The group headed down to the campus pool that evening for some ice cream, music, diving and a new and exciting (if worrying barbarous) game of gutter ball. If anyone is having trouble understanding what this gutter ball consists of, simply try putting water polo and anarchy together and you should have the gist of it pretty quickly.

The next morning, battered and bruised but surprisingly refreshed, the participants had the chance to head on some excursions on Sunday morning. Our trip to the lake was scuppered by the inefficiencies of the Ghanaian transport system but thankfully this didn’t prohibit us from visiting the palace of the Ashanti king. Since the late 17th Century the Ashanti region has had a kingship in place and the system has remained in place, even through colonialism and right up until the present day. The parliament and the kingship each have a share of authority and this system, and the history of the Ashanti region, is one of the main reasons why the region is perhaps one of the most stable in Africa. When Kwame Kkrumah led the country to independence in the late 1950’s, they had the tools ready at hand for restructuring and rebuilding their country’s political system, something which many previously tribe based countries in Africa simply didn’t have access to.

Some of our teams set off on their second village visits today, to explore further the country we have been learning so much about. One of the teams in particular, the Rice De-Stoning team, are going to get to see more of the country than any others. On their first village visit they realized that none of the villages IDDS has been working with farm rice and as such, the information they needed simply wasn’t available. In typical IDDS fashion they have simply adapted their approach and set off this morning at 8am for the Northern Region, and the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso! In the villages in the far North of the country rice is one of the most prevalent crops farmed, so hopefully they can return with the information they need, as well as a story or two!


Pat said...

I hope to see you at maker Faire Africa where I am going to present 2 things, a very simple wooden drill that (with a masonry bit)can drill a 1" hole in hardened steel and also a system to build a MultiMachine based factory with 20 types of light industrial machine tools, metal benders and engine powered welders. The whole process is self booting and can be started with a just a few pieces of common water pipe and no money. The rest of the process can be paid for by selling products made on tools made earlier. Materials needed are broken or worn engine blocks, a smooth piece of 2+" pipe, 24" lengths of steel bar along with a small amount of steel plate. Some kind of running engine is needed late in the process to power the welder.

I am bring several hundred DVDs with a construction book and video, 12 full length machining books and 700 tool plans and articles.

No "perpetual motion" idea here! Every part of the process is being done now.

Specifically I am writing about one specific thing that could be very useful in Suame Magazine. An extremely good penetrating oil can be made from a 50/50 mix of used auto transmission oil and acetone. The results are almost magical if it is allowed to soak in overnight.

Pat Delany, a 74 year old guy in Palestine TX, USA

Niall Walsh said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for the comment, nice to hear you'll be coming to Maker Faire! We're all heading down together on the Wednesday after we finish up our program here and will have specific section of the Fair reserved for us so make sure you come and investigate as I see there being plenty of scope for collaboration.

The teams would be really interested in the projects you're bringing to the table!

All the best,

Pat said...

Thanks Niall

Will see you there!


Claire said...

Hi, I am trying to contact Crossman Hormenoo for an interview with Voice of America about appropriate technology, do you know how I can contact him? Thank you!
~Claire McManus

Niall Walsh said...

Hi Claire,

I have literally not looked at this blog for the last 2 months or so, and just stumbled across it here a few moments ago - I understand it's a huge delay but if there is any chance you are still looking to do the interview I could certainly put you in touch.

Let me know via email,, and I'll pass you on to Crossman. If I know hime like I think I do, he's always willing to talk about appropriate technology!