Friday, 31 January 2014

"Finding my Calling" - Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau at TEDxEuston 2013

She found her calling 13 years ago. She has a BA from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, for a double-major in Chemistry and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry. She also holds a Masters in Public Health from the Population and Family Health Department at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York. She quit medical school and co-founded Education as a Vaccine (EVA) of which she is the current Executive Director. She has also  served in numerous advisory roles and has contributed to the development of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policies in Nigeria. In her TEDxEuston 2013 talk, Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau speaks on the dangers of silence (particularly when it comes to HIV in Africa). She challenges the social and cultural structures that fuel the HIV epidemic in Nigeria, a country with the 2nd largest number of people living with HIV in the world. In Nigeria, people living with HIV are still discriminated against, most tragically, often by the same institutions that should be protecting them. Kemi summarises her ambitions with these simple words;

"I want to change people's lives now!" 

Watch the talk HERE, and make your decision. Look away, or share it with every one you know. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

"Our struggle is not over" - Vuyiseka Dubula at TEDxEuston

She has been actively involved with TAC (Treatment Action Campaign) since 2001. As a young woman she joined TAC after learning that she was HIV positive. In 2002 she started to work as a TAC treatment literacy coordinator in the Western Cape, South Africa.  She represents people living with HIV on the South African National AIDS Council and also serves as the Chairperson on the board of directors in the AIDS Law Project. Vuyiseka Dubula's TEDxEuston 2013 talk is a a powerful reminder of the courage it takes to change paradigms when it appears that all the odds are stacked against you. Fighting big companies when you are poor and black was deemed impossible by many people. Fighting the government appeared even more daunting. Vuyiseka did it and lives to tell the tale. Today, there are over 2.4 million people on life-saving antiretrovirals in South Africa, but she tells us that her struggle, and more importantly our struggle is not over just yet. Be inspired to delete "impossible" from your vocabulary!!

"When there is an injustice, it is always your business...It cannot be impossible until you have tried it." VD 

Watch her talk HERE and share it with anyone you care about. It may change their life!

Friday, 24 January 2014

"Print of my Heart" - Nt'abiseng at TEDxEuston 2013

Nt’abiseng located the song-bird in her soul during her childhood and began to explore her flair for music while in high school and during her time at medical school. In between ward rounds and clinics, Nt’abiseng has continued a parallel journey in what has now culminated in her debut album; "Print of my Heart". Nt’abiseng is a refreshing reminder that in-born gifts have a destiny to blossom and be shared with others.

Nt’abiseng says "Africans sing whether they are happy or sad" true.

There's something about Nt’abiseng's voice that is unforgettable. Her music comes straight from the heart and it stays with you....

Watch it HERE, and remember you saw her first at TEDxEuston.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

"Telling our Stories" - A tribute Komla Dumor from the TEDxEuston Team

Dear Friends, 

In Komla Dumor, we not only lost a TEDxEuston speaker, but we lost a friend and brother, who in his day job as lead presenter on BBC's programme Focus on Africa, does what we try hard to do once a year at TEDxEuston - tell our stories with our voice. We lost Komla on Saturday 18/01/14 and Ike Anya offers this tribute on behalf of the entire TEDxEuston team. 

It was a late summer evening in 2012, and we were gathered in a beautiful small hidden restaurant that Nkem, one of our team members had found in Holborn. TEDxEuston 2012 was a few months away and we were having one of our rare physical meetings to finalize the arrangements.

The first item on the agenda as we exchanged banter was the speaker list. This is something that always causes animated discussion as we try to create a mix of interesting speakers, with team members arguing passionately for their nominees. It was unusual for us to still be discussing speakers but a confirmed speaker had dropped out and so we had to pick another person.

Chikwe, had suggested Komla Dumor, and there had been enthusiastic nods and yells of assent from across the room.

“Komla who?” I asked sheepishly, sensing that my infrequent television viewing had once again landed me in a tight spot.

I was soon put right by the rest of the team, who explained that he was this amazing Ghanaian journalist presenting programmes with verve and passion on BBC television, seen in living rooms across Africa, and one of the few African journalists so prominently covering the continent on a global medium.

We agreed to shortlist him, but there was still the issue of how to make contact with him. We all agreed to explore our network of contacts and see how we could reach him. We were also slightly concerned that he might resent being a late addition to the list, but we thought we would take the chance anyway.

The next day, when I logged on to Facebook, there was a message from Rolake ,a Nigerian banker in London; she had sent me a message after reading one of my pieces  some months before and we had become Facebook friends even though we had never met. In this new message, she apologized for her presumption in approaching me and wondered if our list of speakers for TEDxEuston 2012 had been finalized. She was asking, she said because she knew someone who would make a great speaker.

Her message read:

“Anyway, a thought just occurred to me. I wonder whether you could invite a friend, Ghanaian and senior broadcast journalist at the BBC, Komla Dumor to be a TEDxEuston speaker. He is anchor for Focus on Africa, BBC World News. He's a great speaker, well travelled, and has some really amazing stories to share. Just thought I'd plug him a bit in case you're still looking for interesting people. He hasn't asked me to do this, I just thought he'd make a great addition to the line up. If not, there's always 2013 I guess”

I quickly wrote back saying we had just the previous day agreed that we would like to approach him but did not have any direct contacts with him, so could she introduce us, she did and he immediately agreed to speak.

On the day of the event, he mingled easily with the team members, volunteers and other speakers, many of whom he knew already from his extensive travels across the continent.

I was co-hosting with my colleague Adaugo,  we had divvied up the speaker introductions and I was responsible for introducing Komla. We had rehearsed our introductions all day the previous day, and because I preferred to present without notes, I had more or less memorized Komla’s introduction. I talked about how he had started as a medical student in Ghana and had then left for a career in journalism in Ghana rising to his current role at the BBC.

As I went to the Green Room where he was being fitted with a microphone, I found him exchanging banter with the team members there. As I walked him to the stage, I asked if he was okay and he told me, “ This is what I do every day” And then he whispered in my ear, “ Please, when you’re introducing me, don’t say anything about Ghana.”

Don’t say anything about Ghana? I thought, my whole intro was riddled with references to Ghana.

The applause for the previous speaker was just dying out and so I had no choice but to walk out on stage and ad-lib furiously, deleting every mention of Ghana and all the while wondering why.

Komla took to the stage, and within moments, had the whole hall on their feet singing the Nigerian national anthem. And then he proceeded to deliver a humorous, honest and powerful talk on telling the African story. He received a standing ovation, and when the talks were put up a few months later, it was quickly viewed by thousands of people. Even in his passing, the talk will remain online as a tribute to what he stood for.

Watch the talk HERE

When we first heard the rumour of his death earlier today, we refused to believe it, how could someone so vibrant and full of life have slipped away like that.

That evening, walking out of a cinema where I had just finished watching Twelve Years A Slave, my phone buzzed. It was Chikwe confirming that the news was true. Feeling fragile and more aware than ever from the film of the importance of diversity in stories told, the news hurt. But I was glad that Komla had the opportunity of sharing his story with us, and that we had had the privilege of bringing it to the world. As a commentator today said, it is not often that Presidents and market-women are united in grief. Komla did that, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues, as we join them in bidding him, a great son of Africa, adieu.

To quote from the Nigerian national anthem that you led us through at TEDxEuston, "the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain".....keep well Bro!

Find below a collection of pictures by the Femi, Don and Osita of the TEDxEuston team.

Friday, 17 January 2014

"Against all odds" - Herman Mashaba at TEDxEuston 2013

South Africa was on every one’s mind at TEDxEuston 2013, as Nelson Mandela sadly passed away the day before. We were really privileged to have on our stage a man, whose story is so intertwined with the story of his county.

He rose from very humble beginnings in apartheid South Africa to become one of his country’s most successful entrepreneurs. Forced to drop out of university, he fought to set up the first black-owned haircare company in the country. Now, he is taking on even bigger issues. Known as a capitalist with a mission, Herman Mashaba says, "The balance of my life is dedicated to promoting capitalism as a system in Africa, and fighting racism." 

Listen to him at the TEDxEuston 2013 as he gives an honest account of the early influences on his life. He goes on to inspire us with sharp insights into how he succeeded as a business man under those difficult circumstances regime and reminds us that:

"History, we cannot reverse but the future…we can create." 

Listen to his absolutely inspiring talk....HERE, and as always - share widely with your networks.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

"My wake up call" - Ikenna Azuike at TEDxEuston 2013

He is a video blogger and founder of the hugely popular 'What’s up Africa'. He trained and worked as a Lawyer for four and a half years. But despite the financial security of that profession and the opportunities to live and work in some of the world’s best cities, he was unhappy and wanted to do something more creative and fulfilling. He ditched law for a new career in journalism. Ikenna Azuike, master of wit and satire, in his TEDxEuston 2013 presentation, talks us through his toothbrush eureka moment and of how sometimes one needs to leave the conventional and the safe to do what needs to be done. Ikenna reminded us that;

"It is better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than to be at the top of one you don't want to climb." 

Watch his amazing talk HERE - be prepared to laugh and cry and everything in between. Share this widely...

Ikenna Azuike at TEDxEuston 2013

What TEDxEuston does to you

Friday, 10 January 2014

Don't trivialise corruption, tackle it! Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at TEDxEuston 2013

She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1977, was vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group, is a globally renowned economist and Nigeria's Minister of Finance. An avowed anti-corruption advocate, she introduced the practice of publishing each state's monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers to encourage transparency and engagement by the population.

Beyond the oscillation of contemporary public opinion, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be judged by history, long after her current tenure has ended by the impact her policies have had on Nigeria’s economy, which she has been privileged to manage through this most dynamic yet fragile time in its evolution.

In her TEDxEuston 2013 talk, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reminds us all, however, of our own communal responsibility in creating and maintaining a corrupt-free society. That train demands that every one of us comes on board, and that we cannot abdicate the responsibility to our political leadership;

"If you can do (anything) from legitimate civil society…galvanize action, do not leave it to someone else” 

She is only the second political office holder that we have ever invited to the TEDxEuston stage! 

Listen to her talk HERE, watch her dance and and start a conversation. Don't trivialise the issues - deep thought is required for the things that matter!

Watch the talk, share to your network and tweet us your views @tedxeuston