When Slice of MIT last caught up with Arthur Musah ’04, MEng ’05 in 2012, the engineer-turned-filmmaker was chronicling the four-year academic journey of five African students from MIT’s class of 2015. The documentary, One Day I Too Go Fly, follows MIT undergraduates from Tanzania, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe as they adjusted to life in the United States and sought to become professional engineers.
“MIT is such an iconic place and it affected the students in profound ways,” Musah says. “It seemed like the ideal place to set a story and document the kind of changes that can happen on a personal level.”
The MIT students—Fidelis Chimombe; Mosa Issachar; Sante Nyambo; Billy Ndengeyingoma; and Philip Abel—graduated in 2015. And while One Day I Too Go Fly has yet to be released, it has not stopped Musah, who grew up in Ghana, from continuing the chronicle the Africa-MIT experience.
His newest film, Naija Beta, follows a team of Nigerian and Nigerian-American MIT students who travel to Nigeria to teach a five-week technology design course and coach students in a robotics tournament. (According to the BBC, the word Naija is a Nigerian word that denotes a new beginning for the country.)
Trailer via the African Film Festival on YouTube
“These MIT students are going back home to figure out how they fit in their country of origin,” Musah says. “It’s a very MIT idea to think that you can change the world through technology. And by applying yourself, you can make a difference and move your community forward.”
Naija Beta explores technology in Nigeria during a time of globalization and the role that youth entrepreneurship can play in a changing society. The film premiered in April 2016 at the Pan African International Film Festival in Cannes, France, and won the 2016 Best Documentary Short Film Award at Boston’s Roxbury International Film Festival.
“We live in an age that’s heavily influenced by science and technology,” Musah says. “And MIT is a leader in that. The film helps show what happens when a college community takes a global perspective.”
Musah, who works as a software engineer near Boston, says that MIT’s explore-everything mindset plays a pivotal role in the lives of the students he follows, and has had a significant impact in his life as well.
“MIT gave me an opportunity to really explore how the world works,” he says. “I had an amazing set of writing professors. It’s a place where all of my interests—storytelling and engineering—could be explored and taken to the next level.”
The MIT Club of Boston and the Division of Student Life will co-sponsor a screening of Naija Beta on Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 6:30–9:00 p.m., on MIT campus.
A panel discussion will follow the film and light dinner will be provided. Register and find details on pricing on the MIT Club of Boston website.