Miscellaneous Rumbles

African Custom Shop 2


A year ago I asked for donations and help for an African luthier. I stopped the project since many doubted if he was really poor and not pulling our leg. It took me a long time to confirm his story. It is true.

Christian missionary organisation JC:HEM confirmed it, plus two westerners from Sweden and Ireland told me the same: the luthier has almost nothing.

Wifi is very common in Malawi and everyone MUST have a smartphone to do banking. And Patron the luthier has a suit to wear. That's about it: he doesn't own much more.

If you check his facebook, you'll find a man with a laptop. That is not Patron but his friend who died. People are often photographed with their nicest items; it doesn't make them rich.

If you are willing to send ANYTHING guitar: strings, pickups, tuning gears etc.etc. then send it here:

Mushamuka Nyirenda Patron - Guitar Maker

Dzaleka Refugee Camp

P.O Box 31711 Lilongwe



You can order a $200 guitar which looks like this:


I was going to ask if his guitars could be purchased. Wouldn't that help him best?


Yes that would help him best. Let's say the guitars have their own charm. But any help is welcome.

The guitar you see in the picture is bought by a man in Sweden. He sent Patron some strings and pickups. Even discarded but labeled strings are usable: conditions are harsh in the camp. Patron can travel to a few towns but money is an issue. He would like to go back to Congo but he can't and thus he is trapped in Malawi. For 8 years now.


The latest electric guitar almost ready for export.


Progress in Malawi: a cool headstock logo!


So far I have not been able to help Patron.

I wrote to some guitar brands, guitar part shops and powertool companies. No results.

The LPG African Custom Shop can't complete the guitars in stock because of heavy currency fluctuations. Strings and tuners are very welcome.


Guitars from Malawi camp hit right note with musicians around the world News Stories, 6 April 2016

© UNHCR/K.Shimoh

In his small workshop in Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, Patron Pulashang produces handcrafted guitars that are sold all over the world.

DZALEKA, Malawi, April 6 (UNHCR) – Hidden among the dirt footpaths of Dzaleka refugee camp is the nerve centre of a business that strikes a chord worldwide.

In one of the mud houses crammed together in the congested camp, Patron Palushong can be found carving and polishing handcrafted wooden guitars, his signature product.

Born in 1980 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Palushang learned how to make guitars at a skills training centre in his home town of Bukavu in the conflict-torn east of that vast country. He fled civil war in the DRC in 2007 and was separated from his wife. The couple were reunited in Dzaleka camp, outside Malawi's capital Lilongwe, where they now live with two young daughters.

Realizing he could use his guitar-making skills to survive, he got to work.

"Life in the camp can be very hard if one is idle," Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana said. "But those with special skills like myself can survive in one way or the other. My aim is not to rely on UNHCR handouts forever, but to survive on my own. I started making guitars in the DRC and continued even when I arrived here."

Word of his meticulous work and craftsmanship spread and his guitars were soon being snapped up, not only in Malawi, but also by customers in the United States, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana has been a refugee in Malawi for almost a decade. In accordance with the country's strict rules, all refugees must live at Dzaleka.

He says life in the camp is a challenge, but his skill, talent and entrepreneurial flair have enabled him to survive financially.

© UNHCR/K.Shimoh

Patron Palushang plays one his guitars near his workshop in Dzalake camp. He has received training in entrepreneurship and community development from the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), UNHCR's partner in Malawi, which has helped his business forge ahead. Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana says his work requires concentration, as well as finesse in carving, polishing, measuring and fine-tuning the guitar. It takes several weeks to complete one instrument using products such as wood, string and sometimes, cowhide.

"Apart from the physical work, making one guitar requires a lot of physical stamina, meticulousness and mental calculation, so that I produce a product that is sophisticated enough for international consumption," he said. The money he earns supports his family, and buys farm equipment for his maize field and supports other small businesses he is involved in.

Some of the guitars are sold to clients who visit Dzaleka refugee camp and to musicians based in Malawi. However, most are referrals from people abroad whom he has never met. Patron Palushang Bin Kilangana's aim is to grow his business using his business acumen and determination, but he says insufficient capital is a major impediment.

Monique Ekoko, UNHCR's representative in Malawi, said UNHCR would like to continue to help refugees in Dzaleka and elsewhere in Malawi to become self-reliant. "However lack of resources does not allow us to provide more in start-up capital," she added.

Food rations were cut between October 2015 and January 2016, and refugees in Dzaleka struggled to make ends meet. "We are happy that a number of our refugees, despite the many challenges we face in supporting them, are using some of the opportunities, to change their circumstances in life, especially through various forms of entrepreneurship," Ekoko said. "It is even more critical that we support them, as the refugees in Dzaleka are almost completely dependent on ."themselves Dzaleka camp was established by the Malawian government in 1994, and has more than 25,000 refugees, mostly from the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.

There are more than 35,000 persons of concern to UNHCR in Malawi, of whom more than 10,000 are asylum seekers from Mozambique. They have been arriving since December 2015, fleeing clashes between RENAMO rebels and Mozambican government forces.


interesting thread...good stuff

gods bless him, he just wants to make guitars!!



If you haven't already contacted Taylor Guitars, this seems -- given the company's marketing, and forestry business interests on the continent -- like a cause to which that company might offer some support.


What's your goal Geoff?

I think Dave is on the right path, people purchasing what he makes is a win / win.

Without a clear strategy you're not going to find anyone to invest. The economy isn't great and the music world economy could be seen as a sinking ship.

Personally it's not that I don't think he's legit as I'm sure he is but what is it you and two others are asking me to do?


I am just trying to get Patron some basic tools, which are more suited for guitar making. Like a real fret saw and so on. Fret and scale precision is a big problem. And some electric tools too, like a drill. And I'm trying to find books and courseware and so on. I am also asking SquareSpace to donate a web shop.


I can't ask any of that from private persons and small businesses, Curt. Let me say I never intended to put such pressure upon you and others shouldn't do that either. If you do want to help, you may want to send a telecaster shape/plans or some spare parts you don't really need. Electric or acoustic guitar parts.

Buying guitars would be best yes. But I do think Patron needs some more knowledge: his electric guitars do not have a truss rod for example. That might be very difficult to create and not the first priority but I'm just trying to say his guitars are at 90% of what they should be. Precise frets would make them a lot better. He has been asking me for some kind of ruler system.

I have written to ALL major guitar brands, power tool brands and guitar part & tool companies. It just doesn't work: they all want me to be an organization so they can tax-deduct any donation. Lots of red tape and corporate insect thinking. I am just trying to help one man. That is not how it seems to work.

Let me mention some thoughts, from high to low, not hindered by reality. The ideal situation would be to free Patron from the camp. He has been trying to get to Australia for years now. But from 100 people only 2 are selected. That is a most difficult mission. Sending a master builder with tools to the camp, would also be very cool. That is one of my other ideas. It also would get some attention for the Dzaleka camp. It's a sad situation over there. Sending tools and media with guitar knowledge should be possible. That would be nice. (Patron dreams of a laptop with construction lessons.) The lowest goal is to send parts.




Finding help means nagging. It takes a lot of time but in the end, it works.


So Geoff, Stupid question, why don't you just buy the tools and ship them or start a go fund me or the million other places people go to raise coin?

As far as a Tele shape, just trace one it's so easy to do.

Here's a fret saw.


Don't mean to be an ass but people who are in this business probably make the same in day that you might make in an hour or two and there's nothing to give. The way I see it the people that work in this industry are giving people or they wouldn't be in this business.

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