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The Most Unique TED Stage Ever


UPDATE: Emmanuel Jal beat the odds of growing up as a child soldier, watching his friends die of starvation in the Sudan. But today he sings the song of a war child on the TED stage

UPDATE: TED Blog post about TEDx Kibera!

This past Saturday (yesterday) I was invited to speak at what I call the most unique TED stage ever! Suraj, an Acumen Fund Fellow put together a TEDx event in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa! And what an event it was.

The TEDx Kibera Stage

The TEDx Kibera Stage

Suraj has this theory that there is an ‘idea gap’. Basically, the idea gap is the fact that mostly the discussions and ideas around Kibera both from within the slum and from NGOs and other organizations that work in the slum, are primarily and almost only about poverty, HIV/AIDS. There is very little else that is associated with this places, nothing inspiring, nothing out of what the environment presents. So Suraj started showing some of the youths in Kibera TED videos, and you could tell the impact that this had had on them. Just showing them the possibility of a different world, of something outside what the slum offers them, which is mostly despair, and mental imprisonment.

Suraj then got together some volunteers from the slum and organized a small 2-hour TEDx, where anyone from the slum was invited. He got three speakers, Tonee Ngungu of Wazimba, Otieno Gomba a founder of an Ghetto Art an art studio in Kibera who is from Kibera himself and myself.

It is quite hard to put into words the experience. I attended TEDx Nairobi a week earlier which was a much much bigger event at a bigger venue. But the interesting thing is, even being in this smaller event being held in the middle of a slum, in a shanty church building, surrounding by the dirt and grime of Kibera… there was still great inspiration (if not greater) and great ideas! And I think that’s the beauty of  TED, the fact that despite where you are, in whatever circumstances, people (if motivated enough) will always come up with great ‘ideas worth sharing’! And that says something very deep about the human spirit and the dignity of human beings. That whether rich or poor we all have that capacity for creativity. Otieno Gomba said it perfectly, we are all created with the innate ability to create!

The even more interesting thing is, I think I who was meant to be a speaker coming to share something with this crowd from Kibera was actually probably way more inspired, and challenged and astounded by the audience. Particularly by the young volunteers. I literally had to take the rest of the day just to recover!

You can find my photos from TEDx Kibera on Flickr.

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21 Responses

  1. anonymous says:

    what is TED?

  2. Nicholas says:

    It all sounds very inspiring. Care to share some of your thoughts on what inspired you most about the ideas born from this TED talk. When’s the next TED talk?

    • wmworia says:

      I think the key thing was this whole thing of an ‘idea gap’ like what is the effect of introducing some other kind of ideas in such an area other than the normal talk about poverty and AIDS and all the negative stuff. I wish you could have seen it, just looking into the eyes of these young people after they watch a TED video or after a talk where someone exposes them to something other than what the ‘norm’ is in Kibera… they just literally light up! Perhaps there’s something very significant there, maybe what we should look at (esp. for the youth) is finding ways to get them to think beyond their daily reality and maybe that motivation would be enough to make them strive to work hard to get out because they can see that there’s a better place, there’s more to life, there are other things out there other than the dirt, grime and depression of slum life. It’s hard to put it all in words :-)

  3. Fantastic initiative. Well in guys.

  4. SMM says:

    Good One Mwo!

  5. Janne Ryan says:

    Very inspiring. The power of ideas and
    education. Please share more with us. I am
    writing from Sydney, Australia.

  6. amy says:

    thank you for sharing this. it is an inspiring story. the photos are wonderful too.

  7. kachwanya says:

    Great idea and very inspiring indeed, i would love to attend the next TED talk

  8. Chrissy says:

    Are there any videos of the event?

  9. [...] has an engaging account of the afternoon on his blog, and provides a link to his Flickr account with many photos of this [...]

  10. I was there and the event was great and cool and i loveth it so the world needs more from young people bcoz we are the future and the next generation of torrow so soraj keep it up. RICK MOSES FROM KENYA. Agud king is well known by is action but not by is words.

  11. I was there and the event was great and cool and i loveth it so the world needs more from young people bcoz we are the future and the next generation of torrow so suraj keep it up. RICK MOSES FROM KENYA. Agud king is well known by is action but not by is words.

  12. [...] Now this is amazing! This is what it means to empower people. These young ladies and gentlemen were not only given new knowledge, and skill. But something far more amazing – a different experience and new exposure to something beyond the slum (remember TEDx Kibera?). [...]

  13. [...] Suraj Sudhakar, the guy who brought us TEDxKibera in 2009 is at it again and this time he wants to bring TED 2010 live to Kibera and the youth of [...]

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