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Watching videos without smartphones December 28th, 2014 by

In a small town in Malawi, “DJ Piliriani” was copying Zimbabwean music from his PC for a customer in a small, rented shop, which only opened 5 months ago. Many young people are getting into the digital business in Malawi.

A second customer was waiting to get the audio track of the Jesus movie, in Chichewa. The DJ, as these video guys are called, was playing the Jesus soundtrack on the loudspeakers of the little shop. The customer, a farmer, had seen the movie before, and just wanted to be able to listen to the soundtrack again. Some customers bring in lists of the videos they want to download. These two customers were slightly older than the typical customer, late 30s. This case shows that people can have the DJs make them special products, like the soundtrack of the Jesus movie, which is devotional, almost an information movie. They already have the technology to watch agricultural information videos, or to listen to the soundtracks.

My colleague Kondwani Udedi shows the DJ thumbnails of some farmer-to-farmer training videos in Chichewa, and the DJ picks “Growing row by row” and we watch it. We can’t hear it because of the noise in the street, so the DJ hooks Kondwanis’s laptop to the loudspeaker, and starts to play the soundtrack very loudly. The Chichewa voice-over soon draws in other men of the street, until there are 14 or 16 people watching.

At the end, one of the farmers, Andrew Njorinjo, says “I have learned to conquer kaufiti (the parasitic weed striga), so it is good.”

A skeptical customer says that farmers, like him, can’t watch these movies because they don’t have TVs or computers.

Another farmer-customer, Andrew Njorinjo, disagrees, “That’s not true, I watch Nigerian movies on my cellphone.”

To prove the point Ronald loads the Chichewa videos onto Mr. Njorinjo’s cell phone, and we soon see the video, playing on the cellphone.  It’s not a smartphone, just an inexpensive phone. The doubting customer takes it in his hand, and looks at it in total amazement.

Agricultural training videos can be shared in villages, on ordinary cellphones.

You can download videos in languages from Adioukrou to Zarma on www.accessagriculture.org, including Chichewa http://www.accessagriculture.org/search/all/ny/ and English, too.

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