by Jetse de Vries
Unable to keep my distance, I walk up to three classmates interacting with one such a BIKO. The pictures are fuzzy, the colours ill-defined and the reaction time tediously slow. However, the letters appearing are large and easily readable, and after all three kids have been asked to introduce themselves the program equally divides its attention to each of them, making them take turns while the other two can effortlessly follow what’s going on. But man, is it slow. The display makes your eyes water and would have any western whizz kid tuning the screen properties like crazy.
Still, the real wonder is that those pell-mell constructions are doing anything at all. Furthermore, those African kids have nothing to compare them with, so are uncritically happy with what they’ve got. As dinner time closes in Liona has to wrestle most kids away from their new toys and promises that first thing tomorrow they will — after school hours — start making new BIKOs, so that eventually every classmate will have one. The whole class cheers and Liona’s smile doesn’t leave her face for the rest of the evening.