TEDxKhartoum’s Our Sudan video inspires a new generation of Sudanese youth

A year ago, political scientist Tarig Hilal captivated the audience at TEDxKhartoum with the story of the Sudan he saw — not a place of violent strife, political unrest or pervasive poverty, but a country of beautiful natural landscapes, a rich history and a hopeful generation of changemakers ready to turn a new chapter in their country’s history.

“I’m going to tell you a story,” he says in his talk, “It is the story of a generation. My generation. It is a story of our romance with the past, with the losses of our age, and a hope for the future.” He describes an old Sudan of “wide open boulevards and tree-lined streets … trains that ran on time … and jazz nights by the Nile,” a recent Sudan of diaspora, food queues and “shattered sidewalks,” and then a future Sudan of hope and promise.

After it appeared online, Hilal’s talk inspired so many responses from Sudanese youth — moved by Hilal’s call to action to “believe that the future is not a matter of what will be, but what could … [to] dream a new dream, the dream of our generation” — that the organizers of TEDxKhartoum were motivated to do something more. They wanted to do something involving the people of the country in which Hilal so believes: to transpose the conversation into a film.

With TEDxKhartoum organizer Anwar Dafa-Alla as executive producer, a Kickstarter campaign was launchedthe first used to fund a film in Sudan — to help the team adapt the talk into a short film, Our Sudan, with the transcript of Hilal’s talk spoken by Sudanese youth of various tribes and backgrounds. Soon, the project surpassed its fundraising goal by over £2,000.

“The video Our Sudan is designed to inspire young Sudanese in Sudan and the diaspora to think differently about themselves and their future,” reads the film’s Kickstarter page. “Sudan’s youth need to start to re-imagine Sudan and its future — to believe that things can be different and that it is in their power to make that difference.”

After success on Kickstarter, the film was made and launched online at the beginning of June, just a day before Dafa-Alla traveled to Scotland to represent TEDxKhartoum at TEDGlobal and only a month after TEDxKhartoum’s 2013 event was unexpectedly shut down by the Sudanese government.

“In less than 3 weeks … the total views are [over 39,000] so far,” Dafa-Alla tells the TED Blog, “and it sparked huge conversation in our community, particularly among the youth … As a TED volunteer translator and TEDx organizer, I find this worth spreading since it reflects what we are doing on the ground. And it might inspire others from the TED/TEDx community to do the same.”

Watch the film above, and read more about TEDxKhartoum at their website, or on their Facebook or Twitter.

Above: Callum Cooper’s film explaining TEDxUtrecht speaker Massoud Hassan’s mine-detonating, rolling super-toy, the Mine Kafon.

Massoud Hassani is the creator is the Mine Kafon, a tumbleweed-like apparatus that uses wind gusts to roam through land mine filled areas and detonate hidden mines as it goes. Born from designs of the wind-powered toys Massoud and his brother sent tumbling in the desert outside of Kabul as children, the Mine Kafon almost looks like a toy itself — a giant mass of poles and suction cups, made from bamboo and biodegradable plastics.

During his talk at TEDxUtrecht in The Netherlands, Massoud explained his process behind designing the prototype, something he hopes will soon turn into an affordable alternative to the very expensive land mine clearing methods of today:

I was born in Afghanistan…[In school], usually you get math, languages, and so on, but we got classes about land mines — so I know all of them. I know how to open them, because every day [they were] on our playground.

…We have to do something about it…but for now it’s really commercial companies [clearing them] — and they want to keep it like that, because they are earning money. They are [employing] not really trained people — just locals — and the locals, they want to earn money, [so] they are taking the risk to clear the land mines.

The time you have to invest to find a land mine — it takes days. [So] I went back to my childhood and made a few toys… I enlarged one of the ones that we were playing with on the ground in Afghanistan, and I thought, ‘Okay, if you make it bigger…it will become stronger as well, and heavier, and now if it runs over a land mine, it’s heavy enough to detonate it — because it has the same weight of a foot.’

..So I built it.

Currently, Massoud is raising the funds to build a better prototype, with hopes that the Mine Kafon will soon be available to clear mines in his home country and across the world. Until then, you can read more about the project on his Kickstarter page.