Nairobi News

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Need a drum? See the rastafarians

Even in the midst of crime and rampant insecurity, youths in Mathare North are earning thousands of shillings from   hides and skins bought from Kiamaiko and Gikomba markets.

Self Help Youth group, popularly known as Zingaro Percussion, has been on the rise and is now one of Mathare’s treasures.

The group was registered in 1996 after a few years of existence. It was run by 12 rastafarians.

Mbugi Wambogo, one of the directors, says they used to meet at functions to sing and bond with the few people who appreciated them as society did not approve of their hairstyle — dreadlocks.

“Being rastafarians made many think we were criminals and police would arrest us at the slightest opportunity,” says the chairman, Mbugua Wainaina,   popularly known as Mau Mau.

He says each member contributed some money, which was used to buy hides.

“We used this to start making the first drums which we sold,” he says.

They displayed their products in Mathare before a sponsor came calling, he says.

The youths have since established a large market in parts of Nairobi with a lot of orders from drum and bead sellers.

They sell the drums at Maasai Market and compete with others who make similar items.

A large drum goes for Sh10,000 while smaller ones go for between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000.

“We also export our products to Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and other African countries,” says Mbugua.

The Zingaro youth products have also found their way into Germany.

The peak season of their products is between August and December, coinciding with the western winter and tourist arrivals.

“We make between Sh40,000 and  Sh60,000 monthly between August and December, but our profits do go down afterwards,” says Wambogo.