So it’s that time of year again. The invitations are being sent out, the decorations are going up, excited tweets are beginning to fill timelines. We can talk Christmas later, I’m talking about TEDxEuston. At the risk of sounding sensationalist, telling you that TEDxEuston is up there near the top of my 2012 highlights reel still feels like an understatement. And that’s in a list that includes going to India with Richard Branson, so you can see the level of awesome I’m talking about here. It’s because of this that we are delighted to partner with them for the 5th edition of the event, which is organized each year in London by a team of African professionals. Speakers and performers from all over the world are invited to share ideas worth spreading about issues important to Africa, this year with the theme 'Ripple Effect'.
As a Development Studies postgrad at SOAS, an (ex) journalist for ARISE magazine, and co-founder of SBA, I’ve been on the ‘Africa scene’ for a couple of years now. Having been to my fair share of Africa related events (and there many these days now that it's apparently rising), I'd like to think I'm well practiced in sorting the wheat from the chaff. And TEDxEuston is wheat; organic wholegrain wheat with added goodness that you can only buy in Whole Foods.
It was thanks to TEDxEuston 2012 that I finally heard from Jacqueline Novogratz in person- my career idol and Founder/CEO of Acumen Fund whose story I have followed for years. She shared stories of sweaty dancing with women in Rwanda as easily as of the new additions to their social investment portfolios in Africa, focusing on the power of interconnectedness. Jason Njoku’s candid talk about failing his way to success reminded me not to be afraid of failure because you ultimately can still end up the founder & CEO of the ‘Netflix of Africa’ before the age of 30.
Trevor Ncube gave a personal and moving story about struggling through school in rural Zimbabwe with dyslexia, with his teachers calling him ugly and stupid. He is now the chairman of Alpha Media Holdings which publishes four newspaper titles in Zimbabwe which he co-founded 18 years ago, among other notable achievements. My own childhood in Zimbabwe couldn't have been more different, attending one of Harare’s best girls’ schools with teachers paid to be supportive, but Trevor reminded me that it is not background but self belief that determines your future. Ultimately you become what you believe. Komla Dumor and Jepchumba, both of whom have shown me how powerful media can be in telling Africa’s stories were amusing and insightful, while Cobhams Asuquo describing his blindness as a gift was extremely powerful. And good Lord when Chimamanda Adichie started talking about feminism and African women, it was hard to suppress the ‘Amen’ and ‘Hallelujah’ call outs.
That’s what makes TEDxEuston so special, bringing you face to face (ish) with the very people who have inspired your journey or are about to. And managing to do it in an informative yet entertaining way so that you leave not minding that you've spent your whole day in a lecture theatre listening to people's life stories.
It’s testament to TEDxEuston that a year later, many of these videos are still in my inspiration bank ready to be drawn on in moments of doubt, failure and insecurity. This year we’re especially looking forward to hearing from Teresa Clarke, CEO of Africa.com the fastest growing Africa related website with over five millions monthly views. Emeka Okafor co-curated the first TEDGlobal that took place in Africa and the annual ‘Makerfair’ that brings together inventors from African countries. Somali archaeologist Sada Mire promises to be interesting, as does Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ikenna Azuike is always entertaining, and we’re excited to see that Catherine Phiri is coming over from Zambia. She is the executive producer of Zambia’s popular drama series ‘Love Games’ and MTV’s first drama series with an HIV storyline ‘Shuga’.
It's not just about the speakers though. The audience is also home to London’s movers and shakers working in Africa related activities, ready to impress and inspire you over coffee and canapés. This truly shouldn’t be missed, and we look forward to seeing many of you there. Did we mention there's an afterparty?
TEDxEuston is taking place on Saturday 7th December 2013 at the Mermaid Conference Centre. Tickets cost £70, for more information and to register please click here.
Author: Kiran Yoliswa is the Co-Founder of Styled By Africa.