Ali Skanda — Remodelling the Present World by repurposing waste — Karibu!

Phil Plumley
3 min readMar 9, 2021

The term ‘Genius’ is not given out too often these days.

More often than not, it is used to describe someone of the past.

Albert Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci, are typically the names that one associates with the term ‘Genius’.

Yet, I would strongly suggest that we definitely use the term ‘Genius’ when it comes to speaking of the man whose name is Ali Abdallla Skanda.

If the term genius still refers to exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability, Ali Abdalla Skanda perfectly illustrates the image of it.

While some would like to describe him as an ‘unsung hero’, which is an easy thing to do as he is sort of soft spoken and carries himself in modest manner, Ali Skanda defininitely does illustrate the image of a peaceful sailor enjoying his sailboat at sundown out on the Indian Ocean off of Lamu in Kenya… Genius is the term that distinguishes him though.

Coming from a tradition of boatbuilders, he embodies that sense of tradition in a part of the world where crafting boats is an art intertwined with the local community and the environment.

The style of boat he crafts are called ‘Dhow’ and they reflect the influences from across the Indian Ocean. This boat is actually the image of navigation along the Kenyan coast, embodying centuries of design evolution… this is where his genius comes through… he took the tradition to the next level.

Being in a part of the world that has also been suffering from plastic waste, where fishing has been compromised, beaches littered by plastic trash and mirroring a lot of what is happening around the world, Ali Abdalla Skanda upon an idea initiated by Ben Morison, has been with his team recovering plastic waste from the beaches, only to put it together and create a ‘dhow’ of his own!

The ‘dhow’ is entirely made from plastic waste recovered from the beaches on the Lamu coast. He used his know-how and replaced the original mangrove elements making the boats with these recovered plastics.

The idea of substituting the wood by plastic, does require all kind of skills and testing. His ability to pull it off with his team is the ultimate embodiment of success.

The ‘dhow’ has a name too: The FlipFlopi.

Phil Plumley

Environmentalist / Ocean Matters podcast / SDGs