Experienced bloggers are by nature a questioning lot. A less kind person would call us a cynical lot. You tell us something, we will question it. You raise a point, we will debate it. You lie, you will eventually get caught, usually by another blogger who notices inconsistencies. Like a girl on a first date, we are not easily impressed. To remix that old quote, you can fool one blogger one time, but you canâ€™t fool all the bloggers all the time.
Experienced bloggers are by nature an articulate lot. We spend hours each week not just telling but analysing whatever we find important. It is vital that we are able to put our point across to our readers. We defend our positions, usually by employing intellectual debate. Experienced bloggers are generally not dazzled by your personality, popularity, or prosperity. We want to hear what you have to say and we will judge you on that basis.
So this TED Global thing, what is it about it that has us who attended walking around on cloud nine, talking about a “cheetah generation” and “forget making poverty history we want to make Africans rich“? It is almost like we were indoctrinated by the some powerful force. Every single blogger who was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend TED Global came out very very very very very impressed!. Why? Recently we got an email asking us to rate the conference, the organisation, the speakers on scale from poor to excellent. Talking with some other TEDsters over the weekend we were of the opinion that the scale should start at bloody brilliant and end at flipping unbelievable. (Thanks Hash for putting all those links together!)
In my experience there are a couple of reasons why I had a fantastic time.
- I am not alone.
- The explosion of ideas and learning.
- The 1958 feeling.
I lie in bed sometimes thinking about Kenya and Africa and I can not sleep because my head starts feeling like it is about to explode. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? In what way can I be most helpful? Where do we even begin? At TED Global I was in a whole room of people who go through the same thing. Young people across the continent who have a passion about this motherland called Africa that really surpasses all logic. They see what you are doing, you see what they are doing and suddenly you realise that you are not alone, and you do not have to do it alone. Instead of wondering if we will ever rise, now I am like, there is no way, absolutely no way that anyone can keep us down. The next 20 years will not be like the last 20 years, that I can guarantee you. In 2027 this will be the most linked post on Mentalacrobatics and you can all start calling me prophet!
What a speaker line up. You walked out of the room rubbing your head wondering how you are going to process all that knowledge. Next time you bump into one of those idiots who starts asking you questions like, â€œwhere is the African Mozart, or where is the African Brunel, implying that Africans do not think send them a copy of Ron Eglash’s study of fractals in African architecture and watch their heads explode as they try to understand just what the hell is going on, and that is just one of many many examples that were shared at this conference. Sending txt messages in Amharic, no problem, want to build a computer that thinks like a brain, easy peasy.
This is the big one for me. I have often wondered how it would have felt to attend THE pan African conference of all pan African conferences, The All-African People’s Conference in Accra in 1958 as the wind of independence was sweeping over the continent. How exhilarating it must have felt to watch freedom galloping over the horizon coming closer and closer as one colonial power after another was kicked out. But I wondered more about how powerful it must have been to walk into a room and you have all those brains there, all those visionaries in one place at one time. Imagine standing in the queue for lunch and you see Nyerere chatting with Lumumba or W.E.B DuBois sharing a knock-knock joke with Nkrumah or something like that. At TED Global I got that same buzz, you got the sense that there were people in that room that would revolutionise this continent. Now you know why I was smiling strangely at all of you at lunch at TED, I was trying to figure out which one of you was Nyerere and which one was Lumumba, who would be DuBois and who Nkrumah! In the 1958 conference they elected a young man called Tom Mboya from Kenya as their chairman, in his summing up speech he called for a reversal of the Scramble for Africa addressing the colonial powers thus:
“Your time has past, Africa must be free. Scram from Africa.”
Substitute colonial powers then for your pet hate today. Corruption, nepotism, tribalism, maybe even neo-colonialism? Whatever it is, tell it to scram from Africa. Like 50 years ago, change must come and change is in the air and that change is unavoidable. But we have learnt the lessons of 50 years ago, this time the pact between African leaders and African people must be paramount.