Flipflopi dhow wins hearts and inspires plastic heroes as it sails along Kenyan coast

As the Flipflopi glided towards Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach in Mombasa this week, scores of people gathered on the sand, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the flamboyant dhow made from recycled plastic that has become an African icon for a new plastic revolution.

Government officials, curious residents and children in scout uniforms turned out to welcome the dhow, which set sail from the island of Lamu on 24 January 2019 to travel 500 km along the Indian Ocean coast to Zanzibar and spread the message that plastic waste makes no sense. 

“Everybody is inspired by our project and the message is being delivered,” said Ali Skanda, the master craftsman who built the boat alongside a team of volunteers including project leader and Kenyan entrepreneur Dipesh Pabari and tour operator Ben Morison.

The Flipflopi has been stopping off at towns and cities along its route and is expected to arrive in Stone Town in Zanzibar on 7 February 2019. As elsewhere, it anchored offshore in Mombasa and lucky residents were ferried out for the trip of a lifetime on a boat that stands as a technicolour testament to the innovative spirit of its Kenyan creators. 

“Thousands of people are visiting us. All the time, the boat is full of people … We believe plastic today is going to get out of our continent,” Skanda said, his face breaking into a broad smile as the Flipflopi rose and rolled on the turquoise waves. 

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