Naija Beta is a documentary that follows a team of Nigerian and Nigerian-American MIT students introducing robotics engineering to high school students in Nigeria. The director is my friend Arthur Musah, an engineer turned filmmaker. While working on his documentary One Day I Too Go Fly in which he follows the adventures of four African students at MIT, his alma mater, he saw the opportunity to create this off-shoot documentary Naija Beta. Over the course of their four years at MIT the students profiled in One Day I Too Go Fly struggle to hold on to their shared desire to make a difference in their communities.
Shaking Up Education in Nigeria
Dreaming of shaking up education in Nigeria is what led to the creation of the MIT-Nigerian student run robotics engineering programme featured in this film which celebrated its world premiere at the Festival International du Film PanAfricain in Cannes in April 2016. As the MIT students seek to contribute to a new better Nigeria (Naija beta!) they are forced to grapple with their evolving relationship with the country and their ideals.
In the film, we learn that it is not so much about creating a generation of robotics engineers in Nigeria but rather equipping Nigerian youth with analytical and computational thinking skills to allow them to come up with solutions for the problems they see around them. It’s innovative because Nigerian education, much like Ghanaian education, is still about rote memorization, passing examinations, and not questioning the teachers.
Check out this inspiring film in Boston, Massachusetts on June 26 2016 at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Roxbury International Film Festival, or in Dallas, Texas on July 2 2016 as part of The African Film Festival. Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer.