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The 10 Best TedxEuston Talks In Its Ten Year History

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Photo: Youtube

To mark the 10th and final edition of the annual TedxEuston talk series, we have selected the 10 best talks in its 10-year history.

Chioma Omerua (Chi-gurl) “Don’t Be A Waste”
Before a career in show business was Chi-gurl attempted studying accounting in the US after which she combined a flair for languages, singing and acting talents into a new life as a true comedy star and the subject of her talk titled “Don’t Be A Waste” in which she detailed her journey of self-discovery and life purpose. “I was making failure a thing of beauty,” said Chi-gurl/Omerua the Nigerian comedian, singer and actor who has starred in Nollywood hits that include Banana Island Ghost (2018) and The Wedding Party 2 (2017).

Ali Mufuruki “Is Africa Really Rising?”
In its disparaging of the vaunted notion of a resurgent Africa, Ali Mufiriki’s “Is Africa Really Rising?” would seem to be the anti-Ted talk in its insistence that the continent’s progress report is “based on a very simplistic observation by a well-meaning western journalist”. The Tanzanian telecoms millionaire compared the start of China’s economic dominance 20 years ago at 18% to Africa’s own recent rise at 6-7%. It is a tale of low expectations that should be rejected rather than celebrated: “we need to make sure we do not mistake hype for reality, hope for achievement”.

Mona Eltahawy “My Body Belongs To Me”
“Stay out of my vagina unless I want you in there,” said Mona Eltahawy in direct address to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi whose suppression of the country’s 2011 Arab Spring protests included “virginity tests” of targeted feminists. She expands on her themes in her non-fiction book titled “Headscarves and Hymens: Why The Middle East Need A Revolution” which she promoted on a world tour she called “The Fuck Sex Vigina Tour”. Eltahawy makes further connections with political movements like the feminists’ movements of India, Scandinavian countries and China, Turkey.

Komla Dumor “Telling The African Story”
Much loved and much respected, Komla Dumor’s 2013 talk “Telling The African Story” was a survey of contemporary representations of the continent in UK and US media and the need for balanced coverage. Dumor, whose grandfather Philip Gheho composed Ghana’s national anthem is the former host of BBC’s Africa Business Report and later Focus Af crica Dumor passed away in 2014 from a cardiac arrest. He – along with former TedxEuston speakers Pius Adesami and Binyavanga Wainaina- received a special tribute during last Saturday’s grand finale.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “We Should All Be Feminists”

The feminist creed for this new age, written by the Nigerian novelist and thinker was first presented on the TedxEuston stage in 2013.

Cobhams Asuquo “The Gift of Blindness”
A revealing account of the “blessings” of blindness and the distraction of sight by the Nigerian music producer and songwriter was a highlight of his 2013 talk “The Gift Of Blindness”.

Tom Ilube “From African Intelligence To Intelligent Africa”
The possible and radical impacts of Artificial Intelligence on the delivery of goods and services was presented by Tom Ilube, the tech entrepreneur and proprietor of African Science Academy for girls gifted in maths and science, and most recently appointed as a non-executive director of the BBC.

Dr Ethel Nakimuli-Mpungu “Why Africa Needs Culturally Sensitive Talk Therapy”

The areas where psycho-therapy and HIV intersect are a particular focus of Dr Ethel Nakimuli-Mpungu’s practice in Uganda for which she was awarded a presidential medal of honour in 2016.

Zeinab Badawi “Using African History As A Tool For Change”
“For a long time,” says Zeinab Badawi “it was the view that because Africa didn’t always write, or have written document for his history that means Africa didn’t document its history. That is not true”. History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi is a 9 part series aired on the BBC and produced by Badawi’s company Kush Communications. It spans from early human development in Africa to the 12th century with future series likely to continue from there and was the subject of her 2017 talk “Using African History As A Tool For Change” and was based on the General History of Africa volumes compiled by African scholars under the auspices of UNESCO.

W. Gyude Moore “The Last Mile: Africa and the Brown Revolution”
In a charmingly confident manner, W Gyude Moore built up interest and suspense in his talk telling the room of his one big idea for reducing poverty levels all across Africa – building roads. 53% of Africans depends on agriculture while less than 43% of roads are on the continent are paved, said Moore who is a former Minister of Public Works in Liberia. His big gambit is a polymer developed in Norway which, when mixed with cement, is able to make roads temporarily repair themselves. What might be lost on many is that Moore has built on the 1971 grand plan by Ghana’s Robert Gardinier, then the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission For Africa who proposed a “trans-African highway” to promote trade and reduce poverty. Moore’s professed eight-year obsession is a huge ambition and would incur huge costs and require unprecedented levels of cooperation between countries on the continent.

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