n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - A history of technological innovations of Gakinjiro wood and metal workshops

Volume 11 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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This article documents one of the ancient artisanal workshops in Kigali, Rwanda, focusing on wood and metal objects known as Gakinjiro. It attempts to understand two main aspects, namely the growth of Gakinjiro artisan organizations and technological innovations of their products. It addresses the following research questions: What is the history of the growth of Gakinjiro artisans’ organizations? And what was the technological innovation of materials, tools and products at Gakinjiro workshops? Using interviews, observation and documentary research, and referring to the existing theories of material culture, technological innovations in craft and innovation in developing countries, the article argues that technological innovations in Gakinjiro occurred mainly in the change and adaptation of existing objects into new models that fit the standards of the new market. In addition, to a lesser extent, innovation took place in the design of very new objects that were imagined due to their need in the market. The history of how artisans’ organizations moved from associations to cooperatives, how the number of artisans grew from the 1970s up to now and how artisans’ organization led to the improvement of working conditions informs us how innovation does not come from a vacuum.

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