This summer I received an email from my friend Anusha about a young inventor in Freetown. The story really made me laugh because while being quite unique, it also really summed up a lot about the nature of social navigation for all types of young people in Sierra Leone:
there is a 12 year old kid called General Focus, he has this amazing talent of making things on his own, generators and what not. He has a pirate radio station that broadcasts music a couple of times per week and he ‘”employs” his friends as the dj’s. He used to call himself DJ Focus, but has now upgraded to General Focus, because he manages things and makes sure they don’t play bad music — and that’s a quote. He pays the dj’s 5000 leons per month…
In September, with the help of Innovate Salone and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), General Focus made his way to the U.S. to attend the Maker Faire in NY, and take up a brief residency as the M.I.T. International Development Program’s youngest ever visiting practitioner.
This past weekend, news about Kelvin spread perhaps faster than news about the country’s elections, via the above documentary posted to YouTube on Friday. The profile has gotten close to 300,000 views in a few days, showing that the world seems moved by this young genius and the really inspirational work of “big brother” David Sengeh. But, if you really want to get an understanding of how exciting such young innovators are for Sierra Leoneans, watch the man interviewing Kelvin in the clip below. He can barely contain his excitement at the prospect of a radio station at Bo School!