When I was a young boy, we used to take wires, tyre rubber, batteries, bottle tops, bulbs and make cars which we would push around the estate as we played. This was usually during the December holiday season. Every holiday has its games. Most cars we made were plain old sedan-looking wire contraptions held together with tire rubber but some were exceptional pieces of art. I would like to add an aside here that the skills required to make these vehicles eluded me for many years. I could fold the wires, even assemble a rudimentary car but I can guarantee you my creations were often lopsided, inelegant and lumpy-looking pieces of shit that always disappointed me. On the other hand, there was a local whiz called Wiki (we never knew it was short for Wycliffe, so we called him Sukuma Wiki which annoyed him to no end) whose hands were touched by God. He could make a realistic-looking bus complete with lights and licence plates and fans and even small LCD screens in less than a day and even managed to make some money selling them.
Before I continue, we were just leaving the Moi era where in Kenya, things were cheaper than they are right now but matatus were uglier than a baboon's buttocks. I did not know Wiki's matatus looked like the Nganyas of Ronga, Umo, Ngong and other places in Nairobi and other towns in Kenya would in just a few short years. He must have been a prophet because his creations, now that I think about them, looked just like Spartan, Juice, Milkshake and other PSVs we use today. But Milkshake is old. Maybe he is the one who now makes them. I hope he does.
So, anyway, Wiki was not the only whiz but he was the most visible and his creations ranked among the biggest and the best, if not the best. At night, those things looked like something else. If you want to know how they looked, look for one of those videos of Kenyan nganyas at night on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter then come back and continue reading.
At that time, AA and size D batteries were very common because we all owned torches and wire cars which incorporated them and even used them to power some electronics were the epitome of creativity.
At the same time, battery-powered toy cars hit the supermarkets, some with wired and wireless remote controls and damn! weren't they exciting.
On one of those December days, in the warm midday sunlight, I wondered if cars could ever run on batteries like some of those wire cars and the toy cars our parents bought us. How would it run? What would it look like? Could I fit inside? What would its size be?
Today, Elon Musk and other men have made this question moot, plus it had already been answered a century earlier by the automobile pioneers of America. Electric cars are here: fast, powerful, comfortable and sleek, they epitomise the power of human ingenuity, creativity and grit because you really have to struggle to bring something like that to fruition. It also means that no one has a monopoly on ideas or imagination. No one, not even me.
What is the point of this article?
I do not support the whole electric car industry.
Some clever engineers and businessmen somewhere discovered that increased automation in vehicles also increased their control over vehicles that we own, hence increasing their ability to make profits even after we buy and own them. Now, electric vehicles are like smartphones with wheels and safety belts, which raises an important concern.
There is nothing like a truly secure ICT system. I do not relish the idea of sitting inside a flimsy plastic and metal box moving at whatever speed on Kenyan or other roads which some guy somewhere can hijack and do whatever to it.
Imagine you are an opposition politician whose Ford F-150 Lightning or Tesla Model S is hijacked by some intelligence guys and made to go hug a tree by the roadside at a hundred kilometres an hour with you inside, helpless. That scenario, alone, makes me prefer to manually control a vehicle, and everything that pertains to it, maybe with a small chip with no wireless capabilities for anti-lock braking. Everything else from that moment becomes an interaction between me, my mind and nature and that is enough. Anything else apart from heated seats and air conditioning is probably an unnecessary waste.
You might like electric cars and even maybe own one and can say a lot of strong-ish points to support any points you might wish to say to me, like the increased strength of modern computing systems and whatnot but look, I don't care.