So last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a TEDx event in Port Harcourt, it was my first time attending and I was surprised to find out that this was the third time the event was held here. In my head, I’m like “where have I been and how did I not know?” But anyway, it was super fun and I enjoyed every bit of it. At first, I felt I’d be really bored considering the fact that it was slated for 9 am through 6 pm(gosh 9 hours), and it was going to be all talk…but hey! nothing of the sort, the speakers were cool and lively, in fact, you’d wish for them to keep talking and not stop.
The theme of this year’s event was “Alternate Verse“. It kind of talks about how we should break away from the status quo, tell our own story, take pride in who we are, and be good representatives. Listening to these speakers (ranging from really young to a little bit advanced smart people) made me see how blessed we are as a people. Nigerians and indeed Africans are super smart and hard-working people, the only problem is our mindset. I learned a lot and will share a few with you.
One of the speakers said and I quote “Africa is a trapped and laid back society mostly because of her entitled mindset”, and this is because she(Africa) feels that she is to be respected, should be taken care of and given all, she wants on a platter and at the same time, she feels inferior, ashamed to tell her stories, afraid to be rejected if she shows who she really is. He (the speaker) is from the Ogoni ethnic group and he gave an example of how hurt and ashamed he was while growing up because of how people from his ethnic group were seen; he was constantly judged and mocked at the mention of the tribe where he comes from by people who barely knew him, but then the story of Ken Saro-Wiwa (also from Ogoni) was a turning point because people no longer mocked his ethnic group but rather praised them as a smart and intelligent people. The point he was trying to make is this: stories have been told about Nigeria and Africa, but it is up to you and I to change the narrative, to tell our own stories by ourselves, be proud of who we are and be good representatives of our country. Chimamanda Adichie’s danger of a single story addresses this as well.
Another speaker cited an example of how our Nigerian airports do not have any banner that says “Welcome” in any of our local dialects, nothing that portrays our culture. It’s like we are not proud of the unique things that make us who we are.
Kolawole Olarewaju (another speaker and the brain behind the dawn of thunder animation, which tells the story of Sango, a popular deity in Nigeria, mostly recognized by the Yoruba tribe) talked about challenges he faced when making the movie and the amount of recognition the animation has received within and outside the country. The fact that the movie was made in Yoruba even made it more accepted. It was really cool, and we also got to see a bit of the video, and everyone present was blown away. Well, because I’m nice, you can have a peep here (you’re welcome).
Our stories (myths or not), languages, food, culture, events, etc they make us who we are today. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about deities, it could be anything at all, nobody else can tell our story better than us.
Remember: If we don’t, others won’t either, they’ll probably tell their own version of the story.
And just in case, you are yet to fall in love with ted talks like I just did, watch this.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to share below. Thank you!