This year’s TEDGlobal Conference, themed, “Builders. Truth-tellers. Catalysts,” came to an end on Monday in Arusha, Tanzania. The event which marked TED’s first return to Africa since the memorable TEDGlobal 2007 Conference held at the same country.
According to Emeka Okafor, co-curator of TEDGlobal, the event couldn’t have happened a moment too soon. “Africa has experienced spectacular economic, demographic and creative growth, but both opportunity and danger are rising at an exponential rate. Our conference will gather the idea catalysts, problem-solvers and change-makers already hard at work here charting Africa’s own path to modernity,” he said.
“Our event here a decade ago led to so many meaningful ideas, connections and collaborations,” said head of TED, Chris Anderson. “Now, we have a chance to reignite those sparks. The ideas emerging from Africa have the potential to create transformative impact, not just here on the continent, but worldwide.”
The four-day event hosted 700 attendees at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge and featured over 45 speakers and performers who shared ideas in TED’s signature format of short, powerful talks – no longer than 18 minutes. Among the speakers and performers were six Nigerian women, all idea catalysts, problem-solvers and change-makers in their own rights.
OluTimehin Adegbeye is a writer, speaker, researcher and activist who lend her voice to issues of gender justice, sexual and reproductive rights, urban poverty and media. Rooted in the legitimacy of lived experience as both theory and praxis, her work focuses on urban poverty and sustainable development; gender, women’s rights and health; sex, sexualities and sexual violence. Often exploring themes of autonomy, solidarity, trauma, healing, grief and radical love.
Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Okorafor is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters.
Okorafor has been on a roll lately; first with the acquisition and adaptation of her 2010 novel, Who Fears Death, by HBO which will be adapted into a television series executive produced by George R.R. Martin—the co-executive producer of Game of Thrones.
The author is also one of 40 writers invited to contribute to a new anthology celebrating 40 years of Star Wars titled ‘Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View’. A few weeks ago, Okorafor announced on Twitter that she will be writing an eight-page comic set in Lagos for Marvel’s forthcoming Venomverse anthology, slated to come out in September 2017. Okorafor is a full professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY).
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf is co-founder and publishing director of Cassava Republic Press, one of Africa’s leading publishing houses. She is also co-founder of Tapestry Consulting, a boutique research and training company focused on gender, sexuality and transformational issues in Nigeria.
Yusuf set up Cassava Republic “to provide affordable nutrition—cassava—for the mind”. According to her, citizens can only begin to liberate themselves from the constraints of external authority or dogma when the mind has been nourished.
Yusuf has worked as a gender and research consultant in the public, private and development sectors for the BBC, Central Bank of Nigeria, the European Union and others. And has published many academic papers and regularly presents papers at academic conferences.
Currently, she sits on the editorial board of a number of influential journals and is the chair of the board of The Initiative for Equal Rights, the largest organization in West Africa devoted to LGBTQ issues.
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli
Ndidi Nwuneli is the founder of LEAP Africa, a leadership development program for dynamic, innovative and principled African leaders; a co-founder of AACE Foods, an indigenous agribusiness and agro-processing company; and a director at Sahel Consulting & Advisory Ltd., a firm focused on the agribusiness and nutrition sectors in West Africa.
Nwuneli established LEAP Africa on two personal convictions; first, that Africa desperately needed a new generation of visionary, ethical, creative and disciplined servant leaders. Second, that a small group of people who shared the same vision could work together to change their communities, countries and the world.
Through her work in food and agriculture, and as a leadership development mentor, Nwuneli is building economies in West Africa. She has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor – Member of the Federal Republic from the Nigerian Government.
Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu is a researcher, teacher, writer and a public intellectual. Chika believes in the ability of Africans to transform Africa and is of the view that the acknowledgement of the significance of Africa’s indigenous knowledge – in all fields of human endeavour – is key to the continent’s advancement.
Her lifetime passion is to contribute to efforts that would see to the unleashing of the suppressed creative and innovative energies, buried deep in the hearts and minds of all Africans. Chika is presently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Rwanda. And also the Principal Investigator for the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Canada commissioned project on utilizing indigenous technology to create employment for women in rural areas in Rwanda.
Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo
Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo became a number one bestseller 24 hours after the release of her book, Okowaokwu Igbo Umuaka: Igbo Dictionary for Children. Mbanefo, in March 2016. A digital strategist with a background in digital media, information design and education, Mbanefo decided to write Igbo dictionary for kids after she realised there was a dearth of learning materials for her kids. This also led her to create a “Learn Igbo Now” series that includes dual language storybooks, activity books and videos.
She has introduced other African language books including Yoruba, Hausa, and Gikuyu. Mbanefo is passionate about bringing African languages to the world stage, and to drive the creation of Afrocentric language learning and narrative based media. She is also passionate about using technology to solve business and educational problems. Currently, she heads the team developing a web-based archive and encyclopedia of Igbo studies. Mbanefo is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, United Kingdom.