Sunday, June 2, 2013

Recapping the first TEDxOsu - Envisioning Ghana's Future

Sometime in May, I received a call from my friend Marc. TEDxOsu is coming on June 1st and we'll like you to speak. I didn't see that coming at all. Interestingly enough, we had just started talking about TEDxCapeCoastED (yup, TEDx is coming to Cape Coast - Oguaa). I accepted to give a talk and later on, the topic of choice was "Envisioning the Use of Technology for Social Change". TED Talks excite me, like many other people. I count Patrick Awuah and Ory Okolloh as people I really look up to and this is reinforced by TED Talks I've seen them given. I was excited to give a TEDxTalk. And I pray that one of these days, I will give an actual TED Talk too :-)

For this TEDxTalk, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be about the GhanaThink Foundation somewhat. However, I never prepared my speech until about 2 hours and 33 minutes to the actual event. Because I didn't have the time to do so. Once I set my mind to it, the stories I needed came fast and furious. All I have is 10 minutes to talk? Okay, have to adapt these stories accordingly. Social change is about tuning and changing mindsets in a social way. It can't be understated that in Ghana and Africa, we need positive change that will bring appropriate mindsets and effective attitudes to drive development down from Asumasi and Obenten to the national and continental level. Underlying the GhanaThink Foundation's mission, what I just stated above is part of what it is set out to do.

The event came together nicely and the team did a great job, pretty much handling most of the public event planning around a Facebook event. On my way to the event in Osu, I listened to Lira's Something Inside So Strong on repeat. You could say I was giving myself some extra vim. And then at the event, Jojo Abot gave a riveting singing performance. When I stepped up to speak, I had to start with "Okay, Jojo brought some mojo". Mojo is synonymous with vim and voila... my speech was born. Before her, Martina Odonkor aka Mamle Kabu, a writer amongst many things, had given a talk around "Envisioning Ghana’s Advancement in Literature and Women’s Rights". She touched a lot on women's rights, demystifying feminism and the importance of education and literacy. The event had started with this TEDxEuston talk (We should all be feminists) by Chimamanda Adichie.

For my talk, I decided to touch on different technology and internet trends from yesteryears to today. You can read about my speech here. The next talks was given by Jacob Odamtten on "Shaping the future of Ghana’s institutions through social activism". He is passionate about abuses in Ghana, having worked with Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and also is part of the La Youth Association, which is a pressure group. After a break, Gabriel King Akpalu, a marketing consultant, spoke about Marketing Ghana’s Future. He talked through the 4 P's of marketing, linking to them for pillars - home, educational institutions, organizations and the media. Fellow Global Shaper from the Accra Hub, John Roberts, gave a talk titled "Learn For Life". The Open University of West Africa shared a lot about online learning and Massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The event closed with a round of questions and answers involving the speakers. The major point out of that was the need to speak up more about what's happening in Ghana to ensure a more positive depiction of Ghana. There are many issues Ghana faces, which were brought up by the event, and the need was clear for those in the room to contribute their quota to solving those. The event rounded up with views on how the speakers envisioned Ghana in 10 years, since that didn't come out as much in the talks. For me, there has never been a greater sense of urgency. We sit at 56 years old with not a lot to celebrate. Looking out 10 years into the future is really not my cup of tea because I personally feel we cannot wait to get started. The start has already happened, it needs to gain a critical mass fast. In 10 years, I would love to say that we have a Ghana and an Africa where people don't feel they have to go elsewhere to realize their potential. We need to have what we need here. Self-sustaining and truly independent.

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