Monday, 8 December 2014
Inspiring you! Facing Forward (TEDxEuston)
I have been saturated with so much inspiration since Saturday that I did not know how to refine it into a single post for this Monday, my apologies for the late post. I attended the TEDxEuston event on Saturday and that is a consequence of that. I found myself jumping from one train of thought to another as every speaker was able to trigger something that just kept me thinking for days. The theme was "Facing Forward" and what amazed me the most was the different perspective each speaker brought to it. The list was so diverse in every sense of it and everyone brought some sort of uniqueness that I cannot really capture with words at this moment.
I am not going to try to write it all out, but I will try to just touch on some of them that stood out for me. I missed some of the speakers (as I was nursing a bad cold when I arrived there in the morning) but I hope that by the time you're done, you will find reasons to leave wherever you have adapted to become your comfort zone and start facing forward.
Is from Zambia and she is the Regional Director for Africa for CDC (UK's Development Finance Institution).
In summary, she ended her story with telling us about her realization that it was her turn to inspire, encourage and lead others. "It is time for me to step into my grandmother's shoes to tell my own story." You know when you remember that people led you to where you are. You listened to their stories and it made you think about what you needed to do with your life. It is now time for you to play that role for others. Gripping indeed, but you can make a decision to make your story worth telling!
Hails from Kenya and he is currently serving as the chairman of the board Wananvhi Group Holdings Kenya, Chairman of the CEOs' Roundtable of Tanzania and Trustee Mandela Institute of Development Studies.
He looked critically at the whole idea behind the hulla baloo of Africa rising. We hear it everyday, like someone is trying so hard to pat us on the back in a bid to tell us that we were not even expected to do that good. Seriously, at 6% we are rising? Compared to what? Fine, we shouldn't be comparing ourselves to anyone, but at the same time I think we are not doing ourselves any good by being comfortable at the pace which we seem to be using to "rise".
He talked about confusing hope with reality.
And he asked this question that I have been trying to wrap my head around for a while now.
"When will we move away from Aid?" I do not know about any other country but Nigeria should have been done with being at the receiving end a while back and it breaks my heart to see that we might still be waiting on aid for the next decade. Sad!
And the saddest part, we are still making the same mistakes we made years ago that left us here today which means that if we do not make any efforts to correct these mistakes, we cannot expect anything different in future. Sad reality!
Rwandan Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho couldn't make it, so the Minister of State, Dr Patrick Ndibumbazi took us through the Rwanda's journey to better health care for the people.
A Ghanaian investment expert talked about challenging the status quo. Yes, not taking everything as it comes but asking the important "whys?"
"Who is asking the government questions about what they are proposing?"
"Why are they are proposing what they are proposing?"
Hmmm food for thought!
Media entrepreneur and Founding Executive Director of the Future Project. I was kind of not expecting him to be able to make it because I knew he was organizing The Future Awards that was scheduled to take place in Nigeria the next day. That in itself was quite impressive that he was able to juggle it all. His talk was also very interesting.
I was putting his and Tutu's together at some point as I realized they were very related.
He started with this question "Which is the most important office in a country?"
I know you'll say that of the president but he said it is that of the citizen and I couldn't agree less.
"When citizens decide that they've had enough, the government decides that enough is enough", he added. Apart from that, I think it is very important because you have to understand what it means to be a citizen first before you can be anything else.
And I wouldn't forget this one he directed to all those that have media outlets "The media in Nigeria needs to go beyond telling stories cause telling stories isn't enough."
The media cannot just be bystanders because it can be an agent of change.
Reminds me of that saying "All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good people to sit tight and do nothing". You can do something to change what needs to be changed right from your little space!
Fatima is a midwife and midwife educator in Nigeria for the past 20 years.
What this lady managed to show me was just how much passion can lead someone. She was so passionate about her interest in Maternal, Infant and Child health that I began to feel how important defining that place where you should be and giving it your all is. She was making an impact in her own way. It felt like she knew exactly where she needed to be and was offering this hope that was very significant even though the whole world wasn't talking about it.
Is the CEO of FilmOne Distribution limited and Film House Cinemas Nigeria.
His story was interesting and very close to home. A lot of people can relate to thinking about how bad things can get if you really decide to abandon the "bird in hand" to go to Nigeria to start all over. This is a fear that most people that have managed to secure a good life abroad worry about. He attested to the fact that it is sane for you to worry about what could go wrong because the reality is that it can go really bad, but he also proved that with determination you can make things work. Telling his story of how he thought he had figured it all out years after establishing something that had proven to be successful, only for him to realize that it crumbled right infront of him at the time he needed it the most was so real. However, he dusted off his drawing board and started all over and now he's looking to spread his filmhouse cinema all across Nigeria. I looked at the sincerity behind these words as he uttered them
"Consider what is in your hands and see what you can do with it for Africa, Africa needs your talent"
Nobody said it would be easy, but you can succeed with it if you make up your mind to.
Frances Mensah Williams
Is the chief executive of Interims for Development ltd, Publisher and managing editor of ReconnectAfrica.com.
She made me laugh so much with her story. You know when you've been gone for a while and you're asking yourself questions like "Should I find a new life out here or should I go back home?"
We've been there, we've done that. She talked about her struggles and I could certainly identify mine within hers, but she gave a suiting answer that should work for anyone who was torn between these worlds. "Home is where you feel complete."
I wrote a poem one time about Nigeria and I had a line that implied that Nigeria was home because it was that place I didn't need to work hard to belong. I may not have everything I require in Nigeria, but I have no doubts that it is home because it is where I can be myself the most.
So thank you so much Mrs Williams for that reaffirmation.
Talking about people that made me laugh. Chioma Omerua is a certified clown.
Nigeria's famous footballer and now a Sports Consultant. He now runs his consulting and coaching service. (Go to www.sundayoliseh.tv for more on his works)
He was part of the team that took Nigeria to our first ever World Cup after winning the African Cup of Nations in 1994. Those guys are legends!
By the way, that is not the intriguing part about him. It is how he has managed to not depend on fund raising or live a life that does not include going back to the village to just exist but has managed to be a source of hope for young people that are considering career paths in football (and other related sports). Something he attributed to proper planning and being very strategic with making choices. I give it to him, he's doing good.
Talking about people I took pictures with hmmm
He was looking really dapper in his blue tailored suit and white shirt, I couldn't resist :)
He is a very nice person. Nice in every sense of the word.
Is a writer and columnist.
He is the author of 'You're not a country, Africa.'
He ended the talks with his that was centered on asking and answering the question
"Should Africa really face forward?"
Interestingly, his answer was 'No' and I understand exactly where he is coming from.
He said we didn't need to face forward just because everyone else was. Very contradictory, right?
Even though I beg to differ with him in the sense that the whole world is moving forward and if we choose not to, we would certainly be left behind, I still picked one or two notes from him to reinforce the fact that it was really important to define what 'forward' really meant for us and how we wanted to reach there.
In one of his illustrations, he said Africa could learn the art of building mud houses so much that she would be the resource location for it, instead of trying to abandon it and grow into the more sophisticated skyscrapers you can find around the world. What is your take on this? I think that to me is being complacent and I do not entertain complacency as something worth giving a thought. On the other hand, the more I think about it, the more I get new insights to everything one can really put together from his talk.
All in all, it was an inspiration packed day to say the least.
I hope you found it rewarding reading through as well.
Enjoy the rest of your week.
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