My kids were watching Sesame Street this morning and I caught a segment called Global Grover, in which
the blue monster traveled to South Africa to find out how children make wire cars. It triggered a flood of memories of my childhood in Zambia. We didn’t have lots of toys, but somehow managed to have lots of fun, using our creativity and imagination. Some children were adept at making wire cars. I could never make one. I wasn’t particularly good with my hands, except when it came to fighting with my sister. I wasn’t as talented as 11-year-old Taurai Moyo of Chivamba, Zimbabwe, who was featured in Highlights magazine.
When he was about five years old, Taurai visited his cousin in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and
learned to make wire cars. At eight, he was one of the best wire-car makers in his class. Today, he is the best at his school.
Taurai did not keep the skill of making wire cars all to himself. Many of his friends, like twelve-year-old Chenjerai, a talented wire-car maker, were once his students. According to Chenjerai, “What you need are the basic skills of shaping and straightening the wires, but first you have to observe how someone skilled, like Taurai, does it.” [Link]
Observing doesn’t always work. I tried observing talented wire-car makers, but my creations always ended up looking like this. Making a good wire car isn’t easy. Not only does your car have to move smoothly, it also has to look good. How else are you supposed to impress the young ladies?
Most of the boys can “drive” their cars anywhere they go—to school, church, and shops. Some wire cars are strong enough to carry parcels weighing up to two pounds.
Wire cars are driven on gravel roads or narrow paths littered with stones and covered with grass. Although you don’t need a license to drive a wire car, Taurai warns that “You need to be careful, just like someone driving a real car. If you are not, you may bump into a stone, and suddenly the whole car becomes a wreck.” [Link]
What do you do if your wire car is involved in an accident? You tow it to the wire-car garage, of course. And then you call your wire-car insurance agent.
Just like real cars, wire cars sometimes need repairs. The most troublesome parts are the wheels, which need to be regularly straightened to maintain balance. Other repairs include tightening up the wires that are fastened together.
Taurai has his own garage, where he makes and repairs his cars. He also repairs his friends’ cars that are involved in road accidents. These cars are usually complete wrecks, but they are not thrown away. The wires are unattached, straightened, and used to make a whole new car. [Link]
What do you do if you don’t have enough money to pay the wire-car garage? You have it wired to you, of course.
I miss playing with wire cars. I wish my son would play with one. Unfortunately too many kids these days have gone wireless.