So now that I have the bandwidth back, I’m finally going to start posting TED talks!
TED, for all those of you who don’t know, was a conference I attended in Arusha in June that changed my life.
I wasn’t familiar with Mahlasela’s work before he walked on stage at that auditorium in Arusha, and so I was completely unprepared for what I was about to hear.
His voice made me realize that no matter what I write in this life,
I will never be able to communicate what music can. These words are just awkward boxes fit to carry only approximations of my meaning. But music?
In response to Africans to Bono: ‘For God’s Sake Please Stop!’ I received several emails asking about how to invest in Africa. I’m a writer and a wannabe political scientist, which doesn’t exactly qualify me to provide an answer.
So here is what I propose. Let’s discuss here the following questions (and feel free to add your own):
- Why are so many reticent to invest in Africa?
- Where does the perception of the potential risks (corruption, embezzlement, etc.) reflect or diverge from the reality?
- What are the best industries or countries to invest in? Lowest risk? Highest return?
- Help! I’m have a little bit of money and I want to invest in Africa. What do I do, how do I get started? Offer your own investment success stories and advice to first-time investors
- Some probably don’t have the capital or interest to invest directly, but there are organizations that offer grants or microloans to small businesses in Africa. What are some examples of these?
- At the conference there were a few attendees who are starting private equity funds in Africa. For which market? What is the status of initiatives?
I’ll stand up and shout when I think people are dead wrong or heading in a dangerous direction, but I’m generally the girl who sits back, listens and when she speaks tries to do so with conviction but hopes she won’t rock the boat too much. The flurry of blog posts, digg, newsvine and reddit comments, del.cio.us bookmarks, and personal emails (both laudatory and critical) since the article on aid/Bono/TED was (finally) published a few days ago has taken me by complete surprise.
I am really glad that so many people are debating these issues. And if I’ve been able to spark interest and get people talking about TED, aid, entrepreneurship, and the media’s portrayal of Africa in a meaningful way, even if it meant being uncharacteristically polemic, then I am happy for it.
But a few clarifications:
1) Yes I’ve been to Africa and no I don’t think all African children carry AK-47s – A few lazy readers have suggested I go to Africa and see for myself how wrong I am to take a few exceptional examples of African dysfunction to generalize for the entire continent.
Putting aside the fact that I had to be in Africa in order to have attended a conference in Arusha, I’ve been to seven African countries and in none of them have I seen an AK-47-toting child, people dying of famine or war, or any of the other completely ludicrous stereotypes that form the opening paragraph of the article.
This article originally appeared on this blog and has since been published at American.com. It differs slightly from the original version.
Arusha, Tanzania–Africa is a continent of despair and desperation. Here, eight year-olds toting AK-47s massacre whole villages and eccentric dictators feast on the organs of the opposition, believing it’ll boost their mojo. Tsetse flies nibble on the eyelids of starving children who sport distended bellies like it’s their birthright, not to mention the fact that by the time you finish reading this article, another six Africans will die from malaria, five from AIDS, and seventeen from poverty and hunger. Also, the wildlife is beautiful and .
That’s Africa, and it’s in desperate need of our help. Luckily, a few enlightened megastars from America and Europe have come to save it.
Image credit: Photo by Flickr user
Nigerian public health physicians and fellow TEDsters Ikye Anya and Chikwe Ihekweazu have launched Nigeria Health Watch, a new blog with a simple but bold mission:
When your neighbour dies from measles, during child birth, in a
car accident, rather than conclude it was as "God wanted it", think,
ask and act on the failures; the missed chance at vaccination,
inadequate antenatal care or non-existent emergency services that might
have prevented these deaths. The alternative would be to conclude that
God really has a problem with us Nigerians; why else would he let so
many of us die from causes no one else is dying from? We will ask the
Congrats to you both on your endeavor. I know I’ll be reading.
Which reminds me, I need to write about TED speaker Ernest Madu, director of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean, who managed to create a world-class health facility offering the region’s elite top-shelf service at a third of the Western price and free care to anyone who could not afford it. We need to stop asking ourselves if a better world is possible and start building one.
- Africa needs capital, not aid (forthcoming)
- Writing a new story about Africa – The Africa You Don’t Know and the power of vocabulary and imagery.
- TED Global photography
- TED Global, Africa: The Next Chapter – some pre-conference musings on my excitement to be at TED, to be back in Africa, to meet George Ayittey, and why I fear being away for so long has made me a dilettante.
TED GLOBAL 2007, MONDAY, JUNE 4,DAY 1: The first day’s speakers–Euvin Naidoo, Andrew Mwenda, Carol Pineau, Andrew Dosunmu, Zeray Alemseged, and Newton Aduaka–took the story of Africa, the tired story of dependence, desperation, and despair, and tore it to shreds. They took the West’s gaze, and killed it, stomped on it, mocked it, burned its effigy (Joseph Conrad to be precise) so that we could start an entirely new conversation using an entirely different vocabulary. We killed famine, death, hopelessness, hunger, tragedy, poverty and started using words like potential, opportunity, wealth, entrepreneurship, ingenuity, art, imagination, creativity, success, investment, growth, choice.
These are words the media use liberally when writing about emerging nations like India, China or Brazil, but not to describe some of the fastest-growing economies in the world when they happen to be in Africa.
Now imagine spending four days where you only use the good words to talk about Africa: words of forward motion, words of change. I’m not talking about bringing Tony Robbins on stage and dreaming of a better future. I’m talking about hearing from the mouths of people who are out there living it, building it, succeeding (and quite possibly getting very rich) in Africa.
It’s been thrilling.
Maybe it was because I was leaving, but my last week in Beijing all the customs and habits that still get under my skin–the spitting a little too close to my feet for comfort, the full-body tackle method of securing a seat on a subway (I’ve gone head to head with a 5′2", eighty-something year-old women and learned my lesson the hard way)–started stirring warm and fuzzy feelings in my heart. When I left Beijing on Friday night, I felt for the first time like I was leaving home.
It’s been rumored their may be as many as 50 bloggers at this conference…if any of you are out there reading this right now, might I make a suggestion to tag all our posts TEDGlobal2007 on Technorati and our photos TEDGlobal2007 on Flickr?
Edit: Emeka says it’s tedglobal07 on flickr and technorati…I may use both.
If you see me wandering around, I’m the girl in the bright red head wrap. Come up and say "Hi" (or Mambo as the case may be).
Edit: I’m realizing that live blogging a conference of 8-12 speakers a day is pure insanity. So instead expect a meaty digest at the end of each day