Genius strikes again: kids in village build radio from scrap parts


It is one thing to drool over the coming digital age in Africa just by studying the numbers, charts and info-graphics. It is a whole other experience to encounter the early signs of all of those numbers and projections in real life. An even bigger experience when you stumble upon genius in the making right in your back yard.

Remember these kids that built their own toys? Turns out creative genius runs in my family. (Must have skipped right over me, this gift. Le sigh.)

As I was leaving my mother’s house in Masindi after an all too brief visit, I stopped into the boys quarters to say bye to my little brother and two of my nephews. They were busy listening to the radio and I was wondering where the radio came from cause certainly my mother wouldn’t afford them such a luxury.

My jaw dropped and Afrigadget logos started spinning above my head in excitement all cartoon-style! After pestering my mother to get them a radio for the room they used as their club house to no avail. They decided to just embark on building one themselves.

So while on holiday from school, my brother Caleb, 12; my nephews Ronald, 15 and Jesse, 12 rounded up some scrap parts and built what you see above in about a day. I didn’t have enough time to interview them properly, but man was I smiling all the way to Kampala.

Mind you that this was done out of curiosity and not some educational endeavor. Can you imagine what else Africa’s kids could build given even a slight revamp of the education system? With nearly 50% of our population under the age of 15, just how many curious minds are just waiting for an opportunity to do something like this?

As an aside, you can’t tell me you would have thought to use a jerrican as a boombox! That’s just beyond mad genius. Anyone know of cheap engineering kits I could get them to continue to play?

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  2. That’s brilliant, where there’s a will there a way. You ask about cheap engineering kits: As part of the Maker Faire Africa in Nairobi this august we will have a solar workshop for teens, for which we are currently making kits, will be happy to save you a few for these budding einsteins. Would love to see what they come up with. Emer

  3. Pingback: Global Voices in English » Uganda: Kids build a radio out of Scraps

  4. My cousins here in the Philippines show similar traits. Give them some simple things and they turn it into stuff I would never think of making with those materials.

    Just given them any kinds of things: paper, old tarpaulins, plastic, fabric, working batteries, old parts of electronics, etc, and maybe some inspirational pieces. And give them some tools: pliers, cutters, glue, scissors, soldering stuff, sewing kits, etc. And then sit back and watch them at it.

  5. This is so amazing to see, and such a stark contrast to the over consumption and waste that happens in the States other developed parts of the world. It’s comforting to see this confirmed again and again, that ingenuity sprouts from any where, given any kind of resources.

    I’m a fan of your blog — if you tell me what kind of things you’d need for them and where I can send you kits, I can pull together a package for you. Just email me to let me know!

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Emer – please do save us some of those engineering kits for me. Would love to see what they are able to create.

    L, I will email you this morning. Thanks for your support.

    Cheers all

  7. That’s brilliant, where there’s a will there a way. You ask about cheap engineering kits: As part of the Maker Faire Africa in Nairobi this august we will have a solar workshop for teens, for which we are currently making kits, will be happy to save you a few for these budding einsteins. Would love to see what they come up with. Emer

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  9. Pingback: El ingenio golpea de nuevo: niños construyen radio con piezas de repuesto « EspAfriGadget

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