I’ve been watching the popular show “How it’s made” on discovery family and it has taught me a thing or two about manufacturing. Now, I am no expert but I think I have made some discoveries that are worth mentioning and i honestly think that when implemented, these changes could really impact the Jua kali industry positively.

For those who do not know about the show, it basically showcases how various products are manufactured. All the way from large machinery like tractors and oil tanker ships to small household items like soap and pens. Now, I have discovered that there are two distinct steps in the manufacturing process done by Americans that really distinguish our products from theirs.

The first is the finishing. Let me take you back to high school; for those of us who went thorough the normal 8-4-4 system. It was and is still mandatory for form ones to report to their respective schools upon admission with metal boxes to put their stuff in and when I look back, those boxes all looked awful and I can’t tell you how many times mine gave me cuts.

They are made of very malleable metal and the idea of dents and those crackling noises still make me cringe. The designs were basically the same and even the art on their faces just made life appear a whole lot gloomy. From my observation, people in the west put a lot of effort production. They choose materials with a clear goal other than just profit. They apply as many coats as necessary to products just to get the most out of them aesthetically especially when it is something you are bound to see frequently. Whether it is handmade or by machine, the materials used are always carefully selected and when the final product comes, it makes you appreciate the item a whole lot more.

Testing the durability of colour markers.

The second thing that sets them apart is what happens after they have the final product. They take them through tests to ensure that they can fulfill the intended purpose and they even go ahead to test the limits. I don’t know if the Jua kali sector here in Kenya puts all this to consideration but one thing I can tell you for sure, is that if we just put a little bit more effort in smoothing out those rugged parts on Jua kali items, give them a nice durable glossy finish and test our items then the next time you hear the word Jua kali it won’t take your mind to a group of young men pounding and welding metal by a roadside but rather locally made items that compete with the international market.

photo courtesy of cambridge.org and huffingtonpost.com

Featured image courtesy of nation.co.ke

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