Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Ever wondered what it would be like to try to sell baby strollers in Africa? The Washington Post has a full report:
Irene Wambui can't imagine why anyone would buy a baby stroller. She says she sees it as a cold cage filled with useless rattles, cup holders and mirrored headlights. Imagine children being stuffed into such a contraption and pushed around town like some kind of pet.

Yet here she is in the middle-class Westlands shopping district, trying to sell her store's newest merchandise, the four-wheeled plastic and metal tool of modern motherhood. But so far, strollers have been a flop in Nairobi, an affront to a time-honored tradition.

My observation in Ghana was that even the most urban, Westernized Ghanaians chose to carry their babies on their backs (not to mention carrying a bunch of other things on their heads). I'm sure that the poor quality of roads and often non-existent sidewalks has something to do with it, but I don't think it's the whole story.

I'd say carrying babies piggy-back is probably a reflection of African ideas about proper childrearing. When a mother carries her baby, she is always available to feed, burp, change, or comfort whenever the baby gets whiny. You'd think that all this attention would lead to spoiled children, but everything seems to work out somehow.

Anyway, until there's a major change in African ideas about childrearing, I wouldn't be investing in any African stroller retailers.

Finally -- The UN appears to be taking the situation in Sudan seriously.

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