How inventive youngster lit up the future

Mary Mundeya

GROWING up, Aluwaine Manyonga (24) always dreamt of a day when an invention would be attributed to his name, but little did he know that his dream would come true sooner than he had anticipated.

His is a tale of an inquisitive young boy who grew up on a mission to change the lives of rural students who come from communities without access to electricity. His first creation, a do-it-yourself (DIY) lighting system dubbed the Chigubhu Lantern, has won him awards.

“I grew up a very naughty and curious child. More often than not, I found myself experimenting with different things.”

Aluwaine Manyonga

Manyonga (pictured), who won the 2022 Falling Walls Lab Zimbabwe pitch competition, walked away with a US$1 000 grant and a ticket to the week-long global finale that was held on the 7th of November in Berlin, Germany.

The Falling Walls Lab is a global pitch competition running across 61 countries bringing together a diverse multidisciplinary pool of students and early professionals seeking a market for their ideas. The programme aims to connect local youth entrepreneurs with equity investments, mentorship and advisory support.

In 2018 when Zimbabwe was experiencing massive power cuts, Manyonga found himself between a rock and a hard place as he had to study for his electric engineering third-year examinations.

Determined to pass, he designed his first Chigubhu Lantern featuring a discharged light bulb and a plastic bottle, which managed to sustain him through the power cuts ordeal.

Not long after that, he went on to perfect the idea as part of his electrical engineering undergraduate research programme and had more than excelled at it.

With the assistance of his classmates, Manyonga began collecting electric waste in form of light emitting diode (LED) lights and used plastic bottles which they cleaned and began making solar lights and rechargeable lights.

He proceeded to make a centralised solar-powered charger which is able to charge at least eight Chigubhu lanterns.

Watch: Aluwaine demonstrating how to make his DIY lighting system

“My ultimate goal with the Chigubhu Lantern  is ensuring a light for every student in Africa’s rural areas who does not have electricity. I intend to teach students on how to make the rechargeable light on their own since electric and plastic waste is found everywhere.”

“The idea is a social cause that I do not want to profit from, therefore I will not patent it,” Manyonga said.

Through the various monetary prizes he has won from the competitions he has entered so far with his invention, Manyonga has produced the first batch of perfected Chigubhu Lanterns that are currently being tried at Manyoshwa Primary School in rural Chihota.

“With the resources I managed to put together with the various monetary prizes I have gotten from all the competitions I have entered, I have managed to begin trials of the perfected rechargeable light bulbs  at Manyoshwa Primary School in Chihota and I’m hoping to produce 250 lanterns by the end of the year which we will distribute in all the country’s 10 provinces and begin training students on how to make them (lights) for themselves from there.”

“It is my hope to have corporates and NGOs on board so that we are able to train as many students as we can within a short period of time, so that my dream of students having quality and reliable lighting in Africa is realised,” Manyonga said. 

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