Reflection: TEDxHarare Change Event – 11th April 2012

Posted on 16/04/2012

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Somehow little ME was asked to host this TEDx event. Naturally I was honoured to play any role associated with any TEDx events especially the Zimbabwean kind. The theme was ‘Be the Change’. I interpreted that to mean be the change in your own community. The 4 live speakers reflected this very well I thought. The event started at approximately 6:20pm with an introductory video from Chris Anderson and I gave a few housekeeping rules which included amongst other things the 5 minute Q&A session after each live presenter.

Izwi

The first speaker was IZWI. Essentially Izwi is a platform for the youth to share and discuss common issues. 2 young ladies, both still studying, spoke passionately about how the group was assisting them in realising their own career aspirations despite the various hardships they both face. For more information, please check out their website and their twitter account is @Izwi_Africa.

SIFE – MSU (Midlands State University)

This group got the crowd pretty excited from the onset. In summary, they’ve found a way of turning 60 kgs of plastic into 60 litres of diesel. The project has actually been entered into the Dell Social Innovation Challenge and the link to their page is Boost SIFE. It is presentations like this one that reiterate the point I’ve been making for over 2 years now. Our nation needs to have a conversation. It is conversations like these ones that highlight how important events like this are to the community. I spend a lot of time reading and researching what is happening in and around me and I didn’t know about this project. Well done to the TEDx organisers for providing an outlet so the MSU team could showcase their project. I am thoroughly excited about the future of the MSU team and what this project can do for Zimbabwe, especially when all you need to do is find an open space somewhere in the urban areas and you will notice huge piles of litter which incidentally includes the plastic these guys require for their project. For more information please contact them via email on mboostsifemsu [at] gmail [dot] com.

A 10 minute break followed the Boost SIFE short Q&A session. The break is always an interesting period of any event like this I believe. It gives an opportunity for the speakers to mingle with the audience and have a one-on-one chat regarding their respective projects and/or presentations. Given the presentation by the SIFE-MSU team, there was great interest in their project so the break saw them inundated with various queries from the audience.

Following the break was this interesting and honest TED video from Theo Sowa: We Need The Voices of African Women. I URGE you to stop reading, watch this video and come back to the blog afterwards. So much truth packed into that video and once again it reminded me that us Africans need to be well represented at various worldwide forums so our voices are heard. I was once again reminded that it is often so easy to ignore the African voice.

It was very strategic that the next live speaker was none other than: –

Fungai Machirori

I finally got to meet the woman behind www.herzimbabwe.co.zw. Her presentation resonated with many in the audience and it was well timed given the previous video (which I hope you’ve watched). According to the TEDx info brief : – ‘Fungai Machirori has worked in HIV/ AIDS communication since 2006. She is also a published author and poet. She also maintains her own blog: Fungaineni. Most recently Fungai released a poetry anthology with three other Zimbabwean women titled ‘Sunflowers in you Eyes’. She is the founder of HerZimbabwe, an online platform for young women to share their personal stories’. Fungaineni resides here.

Fungai spoke about how HerZimbabwe was born and what she hopes to achieve with this special project. Some interesting facts – when the website was launched, it crashed after over thirty thousand hits on its first day. Since then, it continues to make inroads and they receive various correspondence from Zimbabwean women planted across the globe.

Limbikani Makani

Limbikani is someone I’ve known ‘virtually’ for a few years now. IF you’re interested in Tech in Zimbabwe and you don’t know what he does and/or his involvement, then you need to follow him personally on Twitter and check out the website he runs – Technology Zimbabwe  also known as TechZim on Twitter. Limbikani is someone I would and often probe about what’s going on within the technology arena in Zimbabwe. He has and continues to provide information on the local landscape and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Please subscribe to the TechZim newsletter (I have).

His presentation revolved around the internet and urged us to collaborate more with our various projects. He spoke passionately about open source solutions and how useful it is to access information via the internet and how it is changing the way Zimbabweans view the world and indeed vice versa.

In Summary

I walked away from this event and felt that I gained a new perspective on various projects that are going on in and around the community. I was really inspired by what I saw and heard. One aspect resonated for me, and that is change (in the non political sense), doesn’t require that much effort. As people, I find we often over complicate things. I learnt change starts with you first. Naturally it could affect the members of your family and then the wider community. I believe that is one effective method of changing a community – start at home. Don’t be afraid to run with that ‘crazy idea’ you have or become the changemaker you were destined to be. You have no idea where this path will take you until you try.

I learnt that we need each other. As much as I have tried (and trust me I have), I cannot achieve as much I do without the other people around me. I need them and whether they admit this or not, in some way they need me too. Together we can. I firmly believe that collaboration is vital if Zimbabwe is to truly achieve its potential.

I encourage those who can, to attend the next TEDx events. This is only one of the national conversations currently taking place and you’re all invited to participate.

Till the next TEDx event….

Aluta continua

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