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TEDxKibera: An Intellectual Call to Arms

August 17, 2010

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” quoted Tim Githau in his talk about the Future of Children. With Albert Einstein’s words, he challenged the young audience at the third official TEDxKibera held on August 14th, 2010 to pursue intellectual development as the key to life opportunities. As executive director of the Kenya’s Children Parliament Foundation, he spoke of his own experiences in sharpening his mind and shifting his thinking beyond his then humble upbringing to become a successful children’s media consultant. The pursuit of knowledge, a call to intellectual arms was a theme woven between the four speakers of the day.

Following an introduction to the history of TED and TEDx in Kibera by Tonee Ndung’u from Nailab, Caren Wakou of Picha Mtaani (“Street Exhibition” in Swahili), opened the speaker series with her experiences traveling throughout Kenya to document personal stories of youths during the 2007-2008 post-election violence. “Why did so many youths resort to violence and how can we help youths become agents of peace?” she asked. Through traveling street exhibitions, the historic images are a platform for national reflection and dialogue, promoting community healing and reconciliation.

The seeds were sown for the screening of the feature film Togetherness Supreme shown later in the afternoon, after the final talk. This vibrant production of Hot Sun Foundation, documents the true story of a youth artist in Kibera and the complexity of family, ethnic and social ties leading up to the riots there. When I turned around to look at the audience, I saw a sea of contemplative and emotive faces.

Aly-Khan Satchu was up next with an enthusiastic and practical talk on Basic Financial Success. His mother’s adage, spend less then you make was the driving message. And from his days of managing tremendous balance sheets in Credit Suisse London, he further emphasized, invest the surplus.

What an appropriate message to share to the young people — deferring instant gratification leads not only to financial wealth but also to personal leadership and success. These themes were expertly tied into career advice about information age, the power of mobile platforms and how brainpower can level the playing field.

Between the multiple digital cameras, flip handcams, professional videography and laptops, TEDxKibera also improvised a multi-media talk by author Richard St. John. The previously recorded talk of Eight Secrets of Success is an amusing and concise set of best practices (passion, push, work, focus, persist, ideas, good, push, serve) collected from lives of great leaders and successful business figures.

With all these tools and words of applicable wisdom, I do not doubt the youth in Kibera will continue the exchange of ideas and act as the source of innovation for their community. They are already answering the call to arm their minds with knowledge and amassing intellectual skills as the medium of value exchange. It is small this bustling group of movers, shakers and thinkers that will create the momentum for change, and the youths are at the front of it in their everyday lives.

You can see other moments from this inspiring TEDx event in my flickr set and reach me at

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kevin Otieno permalink
    August 20, 2010 4:52 pm

    Wonderful piece.

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