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A fresh dynamic to stories about Africa

STAGE SET: Chude Jideonwo speaking at TEDxEuston in 2014

THE APPETITE for TED Talks – built around the philosophy of “ideas worth sharing” – shows no sign of abating.

This can be seen in the popularity of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story, which has been viewed more than two million times on TED’s YouTube channel.

It has given way to a number of independently organised TED events around the world such as those recently held in Tottenham, Brixton and Hackney.

One of the most popular in Britain is TEDxEuston. Its unique selling point is fresh ideas about Africa.

Every year since its inception in 2009, the event draws hundreds of people invested in the continent’s progress, earning a reputation for being the must-attend among influential African circles.

Speakers over the years have included award-winning Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world and Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former managing director at the World Bank.

It was co-founded by medical professionals Dr Ike Anya and Chikwe Ihekweazu, after being inspired by a global TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2007, which they described as a “life-changing experience”.

The pair has now handed over the reins of curating the one-day programme to a team of talented volunteers with busy full-time careers across a range of industries but have a passion for Africa.
Adaugo Amajuoyi, a junior doctor, was part of the TEDxEuston team from the beginning and is now one of three co-curators.

Other volunteers take on roles such as treasurer, guest experience, securing partnerships, communications, social media, photography, production/design and logistics.

“Only in this team could you find people so distinguished and supportive as well. It’s been an incredible experience for me,” Amajuoyi explained.

“There are really tough times running this event but we know delegates really want us to do this. They don’t want us to stop so we have to deliver for them and continue to be a forum for upcoming leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa.


We showcase these untold stories that have the power to change people’s perceptions about the continent. It’s a lot of hard work, but the end product is such a fantastic result we strive to keep producing that.”

The next event – of which The Voice is media partner – will take place on December 5 at the Mermaid Conference Centre in central London with 500 people expected to attend.

This year’s theme is Vision to Reality – which focuses on putting ideas into practice to truly effect change.

A total of 12 speakers will each deliver an 18-minute speech, as per TED’s guidelines, on a range of topics.

Amina Abonde-Adigun, a paediatric audiologist, says part of TEDxEuston’s appeal is its diversity.

The co-curator said: “Even if a speaker isn’t from a similar industry to you, there will be part of their story that you identify with even if its against a different backdrop. I think that’s TED’s appeal as a brand, actually. It may not be the person you really wanted to hear from, that you relate to.”

She continued: “TEDxEuston gives a platform to the stories you may not see in the media. We give a fresh dynamic to the African story and what people working on the ground are doing. There aren’t many places where you can get the level of open discussion. It’s a lovely position to be in.”

However, as much as TEDxEuston is about listening to inspirational stories, part of its appeal and its purpose is to encourage audience members to go on to become change-makers in their own right.
“Last year we had a pledge board where people wrote down what they would do and what they were inspired to achieve as a result of attending the event,” Amajuoyi continued.

“We plan to follow that up and see what happened as a result. Over the years we have heard many stories of delegates saying they made the move ‘back home’ or are now doing work on the continent.”

She added: “So many people walk away with an experience they want to relive again. Between 40 and 50 per cent guests attend every year. They meet new people, hear ideas they couldn’t hear at other events.”

“I think we can safely there is no buzz like it,” Abonde-Adigun said with a laugh.

“It sounds cheesy but there is something magical about TEDxEuston. The volunteers give their time to staging this because they believe in the power of ideas in a pan-African context.”

She said further: “We believe the event is more than just that; it’s something the community needs to galvanise them, encourage them and equip them. That’s what I believe, anyway, and if you really believe in something, you have to make it happen.”

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