Part 1: Why do people prefer light?

This impressionistic documentary film essay by Jasmijn Schrofer on Light is set in the remote desert community of Illaut, Northern Kenya. The Samburu are nomadic pastoralists who live by the rhythm of the sun and the moon. The film asks the question, what will remain of their customs once electricity makes its appearance? Will artificial light, water pumps, refrigerators, and a mobile network pose challenges to the preservation of their culture?

What consequences will the temptations of modern times impose?

After a decade of living under pylons that provided electricity to cities, the government is now making efforts to connect their community as well. This results in structural changes in the way they organize their lives. For example, in order to have a safe electrical connection, the impermanent huts must make way for permanent houses with fencing, which in turn makes public land private property.

Although electricity offers new possibilities, it also has a socio-economic impact: a new dependence with consequences for their formerly self-sufficient way of life.

The transition that the Samburu is currently going through is at the tail end of broader global transformation; since 2007 more than half of humanity has been living in cities. The nomadic Samburu settles in villages while a share moves to the nearby city. While we as viewers experience the excitement of the Samburu for the changes, we also feel melancholy at the disappearance of a traditional way of life.

Part 2: Why do people kill the darkness?

Jasmijn Schrofer