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Where the Water Meets the Sky
Film technician Jock Brandis is a man with a mission: to design and build a simple, hand-operated peanut sheller that will enable villagers around the world to more easily grow peanuts for food, which in turn will also help them cultivate cotton as a cash crop. Jock is a living example of the difference that one person, with good will and determination, can make in the lives of countless others.
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Produced by Bar Harbour Films/Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)/TV Ontario/Discovery Channel Canada/Canadian Television Fund.

Purchase the DVD at Bullfrog Films.

Learn more about the Peanut Sheller at the Full Belly Project.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Jock Brandis, a movie gaffer and radio engineer in Wilmington, North Carolina, climbs the transmission tower for routine maintenance. This is just a day job but his thoughts are an ocean away. He first went to Africa with Oxfam during the horrific Nigerian Civil War.
JOCK BRANDIS
We left under a hail of gunfire, basically. And, by the time we were gone, a million people were dead, and there was nothing to show for it. And it kind of scared me away from doing something with that big a possibility of major failure.
VOICEOVER
Haunted by those memories, Jock did not return to Africa until July 2000. This time, he went to fix a solar-powered water pump in a village in Mali, West Africa. What he saw inspired him. What he did may change the lives of millions, all around the world.
TITLE
Peanuts.
JOCK BRANDIS
I really thought I'd never go back. And, for me, it was a very healing experience, because the last time I left Africa, people were shooting at me, and children were dying at the rate of 5,000 a day. So, to come back to this kind of paradise was the most wonderful experience you could imagine.
VOICEOVER
The village of Woroni was a perfect example of unspoiled Africa: a beautiful waterfall, picturesque red mud huts with pointy, thatched roofs inhabited by healthy, happy people. The Danish government had previously installed a solar-powered water pump which distributed pure water from deep in the earth all around the village. But, after 15 years in the African sun, with no maintenance, the pump no longer worked as it should. Needing technical information to fix the pump, Jock spoke with someone at the Mali-Folkecenter.
JOCK BRANDIS
And he put me through to this wonderful guy named Ibrahim, who I was told spoke Russian, Danish, English, French, and a variety of African languages. And my first contact with him was simply to help me get the water system going.
IBRAHIM TOGOLA [Director, Mali-Folkecenter pour les Energies Renouvelables]
What we have been trying to do always at Mali-Folkecenter is to introduce appropriate technologies that can facilitate the life of people in rural areas. In this way also, we have been doing this lighting.
VOICEOVER
In addition to providing the information he required, the brilliant young founder of Mali-Folkecenter inspired Jock with his plans.
JOCK BRANDIS
Ibrahim Togola has a vision for Africa and for Mali, where he wants to leapfrog his country into the energy future without dragging it through the failed industrial revolution.
VOICEOVER
With the pump fixed and time to look around, Jock was able to see more of the villagers' daily lives. From early morning until long after dark, the air in West Africa is full of the sound of women working. Women gather wood, draw the water, do the cooking, the cleaning, and the laundry. They take care of the children and the old people. All day long, the ground vibrates ceaselessly as women till the soil or pound grains for the day's meal with large mortars and pestles, in the ancient, timeless rhythms of Africa. During the planting season, women work in the fields alongside the men 16 hours a day or more. In Africa, women take seriously their role as guardians of the soil, but it is easier in some parts than in others. In southern Mali, they wait for the rain that, in recent years, has been more reliable for them than for their cousins in the Sahel region, where many factors have combined to produce the scourge of desertification.
DR. PETER VAN STRAATEN [Associate Professor Land Resource Science, University of Guelph]
The consequences of soil fertility decline, or soil degradation in general, is, of course, immense. We are losing our life-support system, the soil, at a rapid rate, and, with it, we have decreasing food production and, again, this creates a major pressure on the family.
ANN THOMSON [Executive Director, USC Canada]
People are leaving the land and have been leaving the land for the last 20 years at such a rate that, in the Sahel region, there is talk of an exodus. And it really is an exodus of almost biblical proportions. There are villages you go into where all you see are women with children and there are no men. And the reason for that is, primarily, desertification and the fact that productivity has dropped so low that the farms can no longer support the family.
VOICEOVER
Even so, occasionally a few, fortunate communities, like this Dogon Village, profiting from their proximity to streams or springs, have managed to cultivate lush, hand-irrigated gardens that provide all of their needs. But in northern Mali, such Edens are very rare. In a curious way, planting trees can play the same role in keeping communities together that the tree roots do in holding the soil in place. Here, in Ibrahim Togola's village of Tabakoro, the villagers maintain strong ties with those who move away. As a result, each year all of their far-flung family and friends make the special journey home for a day of planting trees at the beginning of the rainy season. On this day, they rejoin those who have stayed here to plant more than 1,000 trees for reasons spiritual, cultural, and, ultimately, extremely practical.
ANN THOMSON
Tree planting is a major activity in reversing the effects of desertification. Reforestation isn't an answer in itself. It's part of the answer, a very important answer, but it isn't the only thing we should be doing.
VOICEOVER
Although southern Mali is not at immediate risk of desertification, Jock was concerned by one crop he saw been grown quite extensively.
JOCK BRANDIS
When I came down from Bamako, I saw brand-new, enormous cotton warehouses.
DR. PETER VAN STRAATEN
Cotton is grown in large parts of West Africa, and basically in the semi-arid tropics all over the world. Cotton is requiring quite substantial amounts of nutrients.
VOICEOVER
Today, Mali is almost the largest producer of cotton in Africa, second only to Egypt. It's a significant cash crop.
JOCK BRANDIS
The history in the southern United States is that cotton essentially destroyed agriculture here. Because cotton was grown so extensively and without any knowledge of what damage it would do to the soil, that after, perhaps, a generation of growing cotton, the soil was so badly damaged that you could did nothing to retrieve it. You couldn't even grow a good crop of weeds. And it was only when an African scientist, an African-American scientist named George Washington Carver, discovered that if you introduce peanuts as a fallow crop or as a rotated crop, that the peanuts will undo the damage that the cotton does.
VOICEOVER
While the cotton depletes the soil, robbing it of vital nitrogen, peanuts replenish the lost nutrients, repairing the health of the precious earth.
ANN THOMSON
Peanuts are a major source of protein throughout a lot of West Africa.
JOCK BRANDIS
The problem with peanuts is that they sun-dry them; they don't roast them. And a sun-dried peanut is tough to get out of the shell. The shell is kind of leathery. It's ... the kernel is full inside the shell; it hasn't shrunk as in the roasting process. And the problem is, if you persuade them to roast them in order to shell them, the amount of firewood you'd use for that, the amount of deforestation that you'd create with solving one problem, would create an even bigger one elsewhere. And they eat a lot of peanuts which are sun-dried. The real problem, right off the bat, was how to get all these extra peanuts out of the shell, because they knew that they could make more money selling peanuts. They knew the nutritional benefits of peanuts. They actually had a fair idea of the soil conservation advantages of peanuts
VOICEOVER
Assuming that growing more peanuts could be the answer, the question was: how could it be done simply, without adding to the women's workday?
ANN THOMSON
Women will do whatever it is they have to do to earn the money: they will find time to get to a market so that they can sell their produce or sell the crafts that they're producing, and they will mobilize themselves. They work together. That's how they do it. So that each women in a village may be able to find an hour or two in her week for what's important to her. And nothing's more important than her family.
VOICEOVER
In many villages, the women form cooperatives whose purpose is to save time while providing income for their families through the marketing of produce. Frequently, the extra cash they raise is the only way that they can adequately feed and educate their children.

Segment 2

JOCK BRANDIS
I made just a very casual promise to the leader of the Women's Association that, between the two of us, more peanuts would be grown in this area. She would persuade them to plant more peanuts. And when I came back in the next year, I would bring with me a mechanized peanut-shelling system so these people, having planted all their extra peanuts, would be able to shell them and get them to market.
ANN THOMSON
A machine that could increase the amount of peanuts that could be shelled in, say, an hour, would make a phenomenal difference in their lives. It would make the difference between growing peanuts simply as something to sustain yourself and your family as an alternative protein source, and being able to grow and sell sufficient peanuts as a cash crop.
VOICEOVER
Jock's simple plan was to come home and search the Internet for a basic, inexpensive peanut sheller. Expecting to find any number of different kinds of machine, he would buy one and ship it over. An hour of his time and a call with a credit card -- easy. But, as happens all too often, his plan turned out to be not as simple as he expected.
JOCK BRANDIS
So I started looking around, and I started asking -- of course, this was going to be sun-dried peanuts, which are much harder to deal with -- and I drew a complete blank. There's absolutely nothing available that wasn't absolutely giant that ran off big diesel engines or huge electric motors or were ... Essentially, I could have bought a peanut-shelling factory, but there was no small machine that would shell a sun-dried peanut. I ended up phoning Jimmy Carter, which is what all good Canadians would do in America if you have a problem with peanuts. Who do you associate with peanuts? It's Jimmy Carter. I spoke with his secretary, and he put me in touch with a man named Tim Williams in the University of Georgia. And Tim Williams is the expert in peanuts in developing countries, peanuts in non-industrial situations. And he basically said to me that I was wasting my time, because a machine like this didn't exist, that people had been trying to figure out different ways to do it, but there were rather inefficient systems in the Philippines that pressed these peanuts through slots. It was a very difficult machine that you could make out of wood, and didn't work very well. In the end, he said that I was going to have to figure out some way to explain to these people in the village that I couldn't deliver.
VOICEOVER
With the unhappy news that there was no machine for him to buy, Jock felt the pressure of knowing that many villagers in Mali were depending on his promises.
JOCK BRANDIS
I knew at that point people were planting peanuts in vast numbers in anticipation of this machine. So, I was stuck with that idea. When he phoned me back a few days later, saying that he had heard a rumor that somewhere in Bulgaria there was a machine which was kind of a tapered, sort of funnel thing, and you could put peanuts into it and turn the handle, and it would sort of roll the peanuts at sort of a high-speed, and they would kind of get shelled. And he sent me a really, kind of rough drawing of how he imagined this machine to be. And for me that was the breakthrough, because I had never thought of rolling a peanut at a high speed to shell it. And I went over to a friend, a fellow named Wes Parry, and I -- because he has a machine shop -- and explained to him what I wanted to do. And he said, don't make this out of steel. He said, make it out of concrete. He says, you can get concrete everywhere in the world. That way, you can make some molds, and you can take the molds over there, they'll be very light, and you can pour the concrete, and you can make the machine there. I'm a metal worker, I hate messing with concrete. I just automatically assumed that my idea, obviously, was a much better idea than his because it was mine. And, having ridiculed him, and got in my pickup truck, and I drove in the road, and I was about a block and a half away when it dawned on me that he was a genius and I was an idiot.
VOICEOVER
With no option now but to design and build his own machine, Jock got down to work.
JOCK BRANDIS
I work in the movie business, and we're used to making stuff up as we go along, so I looked around the house for stuff -- and I was mixing plaster in the sink, and epoxy in the bathtub, and grinding concrete on the front porch. And it's a good thing that I live alone because, otherwise, by the time I got the molds finished, I would have been divorced. And I fortunately have a wonderful friend in Wilmington, Pete Klingenberger, who makes boats, and he makes boats out of fiberglass. So he has all the technology to make these fiberglass molds. And he has infinite patience because I've had a dozen really bad ideas that he's helped me work through in the past. And I came in with idea 13, and he was as patient as he always was. And he made me these fiberglass molds. So this is ...
PETE KLINGENBERGER
This is the master.
JOCK BRANDIS
If I leave this with you ...
PETE KLINGENBERGER
Yes, we can make more of these.
JOCK BRANDIS
You can just make as many of these as you want. Wow, cool. That first prototype machine, the one that's behind me, works wonderfully well if you drop one peanut in at a time. And I was watching the peanuts go through, you turn the handle and the peanut would go down and down, and it would, it would shell perfectly, and it would come out the bottom. But the problem is, you can't shell one peanut at a time, it doesn't make sense. So, if you started to feed peanuts into this at any speed at all, they would jam up at the bottom. And I was looking down the side of this machine, as the peanuts went through, and I realized that I was looking at cars going down a highway. That's basically what it was. The analogy was cars going down a highway. And I had created a situation of three lanes of traffic merging into two. Because the peanuts entered fast at the top and, because it tapered down, they left slowly at the bottom.
VOICEOVER
In an attempt to solve the problem by reversing the geometry of the machine, Jock literally turned the mold for the first prototype upside down.
JOCK BRANDIS
So that's why I had to have the narrower taper at the top and the wider taper at the bottom. So, as the peanuts got into the system, they moved faster and faster, and the space between them got bigger and bigger. And the result was a machine which was virtually impossible to jam up. And that was, really, the only breakthrough that I did. Everything else was someone else's idea. That was prototype number two, and the real problem with it was that it weighed as much as a Volkswagen, because I was not very efficient with concrete.
VOICEOVER
Emailing back and forth with Ibrahim in Mali, Jock learned that the next goal was to reduce the volume of concrete so that two machines could be made from one 40-kilo bag of cement. He also needed to create a simple rotating bearing that could last 30 years. Once built, these machines would be left behind without any maintenance. He also made the gauge adjustable without tools, for different sizes of peanuts.
JOCK BRANDIS
So those were the three changes I made. And that's, essentially, the system that went to Africa.

Segment 3

VOICEOVER
When they got off the plane in Bamako, disaster struck: one shipping case had disappeared. The equipment had been packed so that losing any but one of the cases would only mean that he would make fewer peanut shellers. As luck would have it, the one box that disappeared was the only vital one: the case with the molds in it. Unable to proceed until the case was found, Jock went to visit Ibrahim in his home village of Tabakoro. The villagers paid to build this two-room schoolhouse, and Ibrahim's Folkecenter installed solar lighting adequate to power two light bulbs per classroom. This allows for the possibility of educating women after their long day's work is completed. Clearly, if Jock's machine can save the woman some time too, it will make that possibility even more achievable. This is in keeping with the Malian belief that, if you educate a woman, you educate her entire family. Educated women are better able to understand their agreements with the seed suppliers and verify their loan statements.
ANN THOMSON
We know that if we provide credit to women, it will benefit the whole family and you will see a return much larger than you would if you provided credit to small businesses or, dare I say it, to men alone.
VOICEOVER
Educated women are also better able to understand their families' medical prescriptions. This new health center is being equipped with solar power that will allow them to run refrigerators to store medicines and vaccines, and provide a birthing room with lighting. Too many mothers and infants have died in childbirth over the years, in unlit and unhygienic conditions. Ibrahim's plans include solar-powered pumps and a 20-cubic-meter tower to distribute this pure, deep-well water throughout the village, in order to reduce the incidence of typhoid, cholera, and other waterborne diseases. Ibrahim dreams of a future in which all of these children will grow up healthy and strong. Finally, after five agonizing days, came the news that the errant case had been found, sitting in a corner of Bamako airport. To Jock's enormous relief, the project was back on again, and he and his Malian driver prepared to head south to Sikasso to rejoin his traveling companions.
JOCK BRANDIS
We met Ousmane and he was a real gem. Ousmane was our driver, and he became rapidly our friend. And he's from Timbuktu, originally, from up in the north, and he has that classic, wonderful North African face about him. And he became our translator. He's the guy who, when we wanted to buy chickens to give to the dougoutigi, he took us into the market and made sure that we got a good price on the chickens. And he's a marvelous guy. Ousmane, if you play your cards right, I'll get you a Teamster card, and you'll be working all the big pictures in Hollywood, how's that?
JOCK BRANDIS
I remember noticing how Ousmane could read my mind. If I couldn't quite explain what I wanted, and where to drive, and what to do, and so forth, he just somehow automatically knew what it was I wanted. The Bambara, you know, can read people's minds, as every white man has discovered.
VOICEOVER
The journey from Bamako to Sikasso is most of a day's drive. This is the main trade road that connects Mali to its southern neighbor, Côte d'Ivoire, with its ocean ports for all the traffic that cannot go by air or along the mighty Niger River. Among Jock's traveling companions on this trip was Kate, a former Peace Corps worker, who knew the area and had been helping him learn the Bambara language. Seriously behind schedule because of the five days lost waiting for the molds, Jock could not relax for the night until he had a head start on making the first machine.
JOCK BRANDIS
There they are. Success!
VOICEOVER
Despite his tiredness from the long day of travel, he and Kate worked late into the evening, as gathering clouds threatened to bring the long-overdue first rains of the season. The first stop before Jock's planned return to Woroni was an hour's drive south from Sikasso. Here in Katele lived a Peace Corps worker named Summer, who told Jock the people would be delighted to have him come and build a machine. The dusty, parched earth confirmed that the village was still awaiting the first rains.
JOCK BRANDIS
We went into this village and were welcomed with open arms. It really was a fabulous welcome for a bunch of complete strangers. And the dougoutigi seemed to like us, which is very important, and that's where we built our first peanut sheller in Africa.
VOICEOVER
Small Malian villages have a traditional system of government, which consists of a council of elders, men who make decisions about land use, roads, bridges, and other maintenance issues. Their ceremonial head is the dougoutigi. He's generally a bit of a character, and a bit wealthier than anyone else, simply because any visitor to the village is expected to bring him the traditional gift of kola nuts. In exchange for that, if you are a stranger, he will give you a name. Part of the Malian greeting involves giving them your name, and if you don't have an African name, they don't know who or what you are. There are 28 clans in Mali, and the dougoutigi will give you one of those names. They are shown where chickens are traditionally sacrificed to try and speed up the arrival of the first real rains of the year.
KATE
So, if they kill chickens here, they think that the rain's gonna come.
JOCK BRANDIS
We can make a machine for this. C'est possible, c'est possible. I can't keep a smile on my face. This is the worst tasting stuff I've ever put in my mouth.
VOICEOVER
Katele village life was typical of the region. As the dougoutigi showed Jock, Kate, and Ouseman around, he introduced them to all of the villagers; they tried the food, wandered through people's homes, and spent time chatting with the tailor and with the other people in there.
JOCK BRANDIS
I love the ceiling, but if we made this in a movie, I'm sure the director would say it looks way too Hollywood.
VOICEOVER
There was no doubt after a couple of hours that this was an ideal village to introduce the first peanut shelling machine, and the villagers were clearly delighted with their visitors. Later on, they also met that most important of villagers, the blacksmith, or noumou.
JOCK BRANDIS
The blacksmith in the village is an interesting guy. He has a year-round job. Most of what he does deals with the farm implements, but he's also the local magician, and he is the guy who practices black magic. He's the guy who's probably more in tune with the spirits of the village and that whole kind of dark side of the occult than anyone else. It's amazing how they can do that with hardly any charcoal at all. Stories of groups of blacksmiths getting together for their annual conventions and literally killing each other with their thoughts are quite legendary. The blacksmith -- or the noumou as he's called there -- is not a gentleman whose company you take lightly, or someone who you would casually insult. Besides the usual things that you'd imagine a blacksmith would do, he does the circumcision of the young boys around age 12 or 13, and ... which is, of course, very ceremonial, and is part of the area, I think, of his power and his black magic, because this is the first time that every man in Africa meets face-to-face with the blacksmith and a rather odd relationship.
VOICEOVER
They watched as the noumou finished making a shovel, a hoe, and a digging ax: a complete new set of farming tools for Djakalaya, the deputy head of the village. Djakalaya then took them off to where his children were working in the dusty cotton fields, breaking up the hard, baked soil. Djakalaya explained that their only use for cotton is as a cash crop. They have no domestic use for their product. Further from the road, alongside the cotton, are fields full of peanuts, a significant food and cash crop. But by now, anticipating that the concrete from last night should be dry, they headed off to the village square to start assembling the first peanut sheller.

Segment 4

VOICEOVER
The first machine drew a crowd. Before long, it seemed that most of the villagers were there, either watching or helping the assembly process. In true Malian style, the helpers seemed to know ahead of time pretty much what Jock was going to need. Under the scrutiny of the growing crowd, Jock ran a few peanuts through the machine. This revealed uneven processing, indicating the need for a small adjustment of the machine's gauge. Some of the nuts were broken, some are perfect, and some are still intact in their shells. Normally, this adjustment would be easily achieved with the use of a rock, a piece of wood, or anything heavy serving as a hammer.
JOCK BRANDIS
So, I find myself now in Africa with an imperfect system of making these machines, and the only way I could try and make this work at all was to assemble the machine while the concrete was still a little bit soft and try and make the rotor round by turning the handle rather violently and lying underneath, trying to file off the high spot of the off-round rotor, which I think is kind of amusing to the locals, but they just assumed, I guess, that this is the way that these machines were made.
VOICEOVER
After a final check to see whether a shelled peanut would fall through, it seemed that the machine was ready for another test. Examining and tasting the shelled nuts, the peanut pundits rendered their judgment: it's close, but not perfect. The machine was not working properly. Jock realized that if he wanted the villagers to accept it and embrace it into their day-to-day culture, he would have to build a new one with the active involvement of the people of Katele from the very beginning.
JOCK BRANDIS
Could you explain to the chief that we made this machine, basically, in America and that we've demonstrated it to him, and now I'd really like to make one right here in the village for his people, and maybe I can make it a little better just for his kind of peanuts, and we'd like to leave it for him when we go.
KATE
Sure. Dougoutigi ...
VOICEOVER
If he makes the next machine with the villagers' assistance throughout, then the chances are greatly improved that they will take some pride of ownership in it and find ways to incorporate it into their daily lives. Appropriate technology is based upon the requirements that the item must be affordable and must fit into the culture of the community. Looking for a little help with some of the finer points of appropriate technology, Jock headed off to meet again with Ibrahim, Mali's leading exponent. His aspirations for the future envisioned Mali leading the world in developing new and sustainable energy sources.
IBRAHIM TOGOLA
Appropriate technology is technology that fits into a society socio-culturally, socio-professionally, and socio-economically. This means it must fit into the cultural ways of society, and also people must be able to afford it and to repair it. Therefore, I think all this small agricultural processing things work very well, and this peanut machine fits here, and we will be able to disseminate it through blacksmiths throughout the villages. Because they can make a living from it and own something from it.
VOICEOVER
Ibrahim took Jock to the community of N'Tjila, one of the 23 villages where the Folkecenter has pilot projects running. The single-cylinder diesel engine, operated by the women's co-operative, provides power for grinding and crushing and for charging batteries. But diesel fuel is not readily available in little villages so far from the highway. Ibrahim hit upon the idea of grinding the inedible jathropha nut to provide alternative fuel for the diesel motor. The byproduct of the process is the fiber of the nuts, which is used as a fertilizer. He has also just successfully converted the Mali-Folkecenter truck to run on this same fuel -- another perfect example of appropriate technology at work.
JOCK BRANDIS
Appropriate technology is something that the local people can learn to do very easily, that doesn't impact their community in some other way by creating deforestation or pollution or community disorientation or some sort of artificial class structure by making some people rich or poor. And if you can do that, then the technology will support itself, then people keep it and maintain it and copy it and spread it, instead of these technologies that are so artificial, which would work perfectly in St Louis, Missouri, but simply will not work in a small village in southern Africa.
VOICEOVER
The other machine powered by the same diesel motor is used to grind dried shea nuts to produce a paste. The product is processed into butter, and used as a skin cream and medicine.
IBRAHIM
They're using it for cosmetic, for body.
VOICEOVER
The next day, back in Katele, it's time to make the new machine. Out of the blue, the noumou appears to help. Gradually, a small crowd gathers. Everybody seems to want to help and, once again, they all seem to already understand what's needed. As the noumou does more and more of the assembly, it appears the villagers are starting to take ownership of this machine, and Jock's hopes for its acceptance and success are raised.
JOCK BRANDIS
When the noumou started to help us, he sort of emerged from the crowd. He was a very different looking man. He has a very interesting kind of puckish figure and face about him. He has a very kind of high energy and mischievous look, which made him quite different from all the people in the village, and he immediately understood exactly what I was trying to do and how it was about to be. The noumou knew what I was doing and how I wanted to do it and how it should go together and how it should adjust. And he just kind of came in there and became my instant telepathy motivated assistant.
VOICEOVER
While once again waiting for concrete to dry, and wanting to make a goodwill gesture, Jock and Kate took a trip to the market with Ouseman to buy a more substantial gift for the dougoutigi.
JOCK BRANDIS
Are these good chickens?
VOICEOVER
The next day, waiting for the machine components in the molds to finish curing, there was time for a typical Malian roadside lunch: tiga diga na, plain boiled rice with a spicy peanut sauce. Curiously, their locally produced rice, grown by the rivers, is exported as a cash crop. The rice they eat is imported from the Philippines. With the help of the noumou and a couple of other villagers, the machine is popped out of the molds. Jock is anxious, hoping that this time he measured correctly and that the two main parts will be perfectly concentric.
JOCK BRANDIS
When I did the design on this sheller, I actually came up at one point with some more complicated ideas. I had a design that would automatically sort out the shells and the peanuts and various things which were all pretty complex, and then I stopped dead in my tracks and said, no, this is ... the only reason this will survive is that it can be so simple that nothing can really go wrong with it.
VOICEOVER
Under the watchful gaze of a group of children, Jock measures very carefully, while the enigmatic and ever-surprising Ouseman observes and then explains to the onlookers exactly what's going on and why.
JOCK BRANDIS
He's figured out, by watching us yesterday, that it's very critical that the rotor gets to be in the exact center of this machine, because, otherwise, some of the peanuts come through unshelled, some of them come through perfect, and some of them come through broken up. And the better the center we have on that shaft, the better the quality of the peanuts. So, he's got my game figured out here. Professionnel, oui. Ingenu.
VOICEOVER
Disappointingly, after all the care, even this new machine needed some filing and then some adjustment. But, eventually, it was ready for a proper trial. As always, everything and everybody that are needed seemed to appear, without anyone having to ask. The noumou watched as Jock made a fine adjustment to the gauge, using a wrench is a hammer. Rapidly, the villagers seem to be adopting this new technology, even though they did not yet know what it can do for them.
JOCK BRANDIS
One of these machines can shell about 40 kilos or 100 pounds of peanuts an hour. If you look at an average Malian village, that means that one machine will support about a village of 2,000 people. And so, if you look at southern Mali where peanuts are grown, we need 500 or 600 peanut shelling machines for the entire country of Mali to provide for all those people.
VOICEOVER
But first, Jock still has to prove to himself and to these villagers that the machine works properly in the field.
JOCK BRANDIS
In the film business we're used to jumping out of the airplane and inventing the parachute on the way down, and I think years in the film business served me well, because that's exactly what we had to do. And it kind of worked. Just had to take a chance and hope somehow that this guardian angel that's been riding around on my shoulder on this whole project was going to make it happen. So, we threw the peanuts in there and cranked the handle and cranked and cranked and we got this big basket of shells and peanuts and everything out of the bottom of the machine.
VOICEOVER
Without a word, the crowd of men parts to allow an expert to come through to do the winnowing.
JOCK BRANDIS
And then this woman, this African woman, came out of the crowd, and she grabbed the basket from me, and did that kind of shaking and spinning and kind of looked around and give us the sort of dirty look, like, you know, these guys, they've been watching us do this for 5,000 years and they never even noticed how it is that we separate peanuts from the shells. And that kind of perfect sort of layer of clean peanuts emerged from behind the shells. I think, for me, that's the moment that made it all worthwhile. I mean, I would have done it a 10 times longer route than that just to end up at that spot, because that was, that was it, that was the moment.
VOICEOVER
That sweet moment -- the successful operation of the first peanut shelling machine in an African village -- was the culmination of many months of work. It was also the beginning of a whole new adventure.
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Distribution of the Peanut Machine is now underway in Mali and other African countries, as well as India, Pakistan, and Guyana.
JOCK BRANDIS
It was Ibrahim, who knows more about this than I do, who persuaded me to give up my more socialistic leanings and say that it's free enterprise. It's the ability of someone in a local situation to make a fair profit by distributing this that will get this technology spread around absolutely as fast as possible.
VOICEOVER
While Ibrahim has convinced him that others should make some money from his peanut sheller to promote its distribution, Jock has invested his own considerable resources to bring it to those who need it. This is his gift to those whose lives it can help, to those for whom an extra hour in their day means a better tomorrow for them and their families; proof that, even today, one person with a heart big enough can still change the world.
JOCK BRANDIS
But the most important thing I can do for Ibrahim is to sit down and put on my best suit and tie, and figure out some way to get him some money, because the magic that he does with the little bit of money he has is breathtaking.
TITLE
For more information, contact www.peanutsheller.org
TITLE
[end credits]