Straight to DVD

Straight to DVD

Loud music blares from speakers perched just feet away from a main road, covering the busy marketplaces of Ajah, Lagos in sound. Passersby stroll past dozens of clothing stalls, fresh produce stands, and shops with CDs and DVDs in bright paper sleeves strewn along the ground and arranged on crowded wooden walls. This particular […]

Deep Cover

Deep Cover

An arm sliced off just above the elbow sits in a glass display case in the dimly lit office. Its white skin gives to the touch, and the palm lines are so clear a fortune teller could predict its future. Bone shards and sliced muscles protrude at the arm’s end, […]

Call to Action

Call to Action

In 2011, Indian activist Anna Hazare set up a campaign to fight corruption across his home country. When he asked supporters to back his efforts via SMS, he received over 80,000 messages. Not completely satisfied, he asked again for support, this time in the form of a missed call. He […]

Thin Wire

Thin Wire

Down an unlit side street in Khartoum, Sudan, a crumpled, dirty note slides out from under a rotting rubber band. Then another. And another. A hand counts the notes on the receiving end. A gift of cash from abroad has both travelled a thousand miles and yet not at all. […]

Church Train

Church Train

It’s 17:45 at Bellville station in the eastern suburbs of Cape Town. I stand waiting for a train, the same one I’ve been taking three days a week. I’m waiting for a church train.

The locomotive rushes into the platform, and gospel hits my ear from one of its carriages.

Makers Descend on Lagos

Makers Descend on Lagos

I’ve had the privilege of being part of an unfolding maker movement in Africa. Here, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the continent’s great practical innovation with these highlights from this year’s Maker Faire in Lagos, Nigeria.

Meet a Maker: Whit Alexander Electrifies Ghana

Meet a Maker: Whit Alexander Electrifies Ghana

Whit Alexander worked for Microsoft, helped develop the maps for the first Encarta encyclopedia, and created the best-selling board game Cranium. He’s now the founder and CEO of Burro, based in Koforidua, Ghana. Burro is a for-profit company providing innovative products like batteries, irrigation pumps, and eyeglasses to low-income families […]

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Recently we visited the office of an old friend at a young Silicon Valley start-up. It didn’t take long to spot the first pirate flag—the skull and bones banner that has come to symbolize the renegade attitude of the Valley’s tech disruptors. It started with Steve Jobs’s maxim, delivered at […]

Building on Rugged Terrain

Building on Rugged Terrain

Makeshift contributors What Took You So Long followed Mobius Motors on their quest to take on Mobility, Africa-style. The idea behind Mobius is simple: design a vehicle for and by Kenyans. But the implementation is far more complex. Watch Mobius’s founder and mechanics discuss their grand design challenge: devising a […]

Misrata’s Homemade Weapons

Misrata’s Homemade Weapons

No signs marked the entrance to the Mad Max weapons factory on the outskirts of Misrata; it was just an old garage with bare concrete walls. A bookshelf full of manuals for farm equipment stood near the door of the cavernous hall, serving as dusty reminders of better days, when mechanics focused their energies on maintaining a well oiled agricultural […]