Ronald's radio from Project Diaspora on Vimeo.

Almost 3 years ago, Ida Horner and myself held the second Villages in Action conference in my village of Kikube. I brought along a HD video camera and put it in the hands of my little brother and my nephew. After the conference, I mass downloaded all the footage they had taken, hoping to one day have time to review it all.

Of course that time never came. Until today.

I was rummaging through an old external drive and found random footage recorded over 5 days. Each of the clips could really stand alone and cinematic masterpieces. I immediately fell in love with the above video that my nephew Ronald shot and narrated of his “jua kali” solar-powered radio he put together himself. I don’t think I saw the whole assembly of the unit while I was there.

To most people, this crude set up might seem like child’s play. To me, it shows untapped genius at work. Ronald has no electrical engineering experience nor does he have the financial capacity to buy any of the pieces you see assembled. Every piece of kit you see – from the wires, to the solar panel, to the batteries, to the recycled jerrycan – is an assemblage of found objects. This was done in a village that has no access to grid electricity or any modern amenity.

Ronald and my little brother, Caleb have been playing around with found electronics since the original VIA in 2010. I still find their curiosity inspiring and I wish I had enough money to get them as many tools as they wish to continue tinkering. There’s genius everywhere, even at the last mile of development.

It is also worth mentioning that this was Ronald’s first time handling a camera. I never taught him or my little brother how to operate the video camera.

I edited in the credit slates and added the fitting Rimbaud quote at the end.

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