Galimoto is the African art of sculping wheeled push toys from scrap wire, sticks, bits of cornstalk, and anything else available. Children collect the components from refuse and by trading and/or bartering with others. When enough has been collected, they shape the wire and other objects into cars, trucks, helicopters, airplanes, or other wheeled vehicles. A long handle is then attached with which to push their new toy along on the ground.
The word “galimoto” means “car” in Chichiwa, which is the national language of Malawi. It may have been derived from English, but that isn’t certain. The word also refers to any wire sculped push toy, whether it be a car, truck, bicycle, train, airplane, or other vehicle.
Karen Lynn Williams has written a picture book about a young boy, Kondi, who is determined to create his very own galimoto, despite his brother’s criticism and the difficulty of finding enough materials. It is a great story about a child who is determined to do something creative, and who overcomes the obstacles in his way to do so. As a result he is successful, proud of himself, and is rewarded both with his very own galimoto, and with the respect of his brother and friends.
As an aid for busy teachers and educators, Karen Lynn Williams has created a teacher’s guide for her book which is full of suggestions for activities and discussions, as well as STEAM connections. (A TEACHER’S GUIDE FOR GALIMOTO – http://www.karenlynnwilliams.com/files/galimoto_guide.pdf)
I did a fun program for school-aged children in which I read the book, Galimoto, then provided participants with an assortment of wires of different shapes, sizes, and lengths, and allowed them to create their own wire sculptures. While many created objects other than wheeled vehicles, it was a fun opportunity to be creative, try an art form from another culture, and test their engineering and artistic skills.
Many great examples can be found with a simple internet search, with which to give kids ideas for what to do with the wire. When the program is over, they can have an exhibit of their creations and speak about them, if they so choose.
There is another guide for using the book in programming here: Motor car and galimoto: An intercultural lesson in pragmatism, creativity, and perseverance – (http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4945)