5 Inspirational Nigerian Ted Talks You Cannot Afford to Miss


Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie (insert) gave her talk “We Should All Be Feminists” in 2012.

TED has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1984 as a small annual annual gathering of tech enthusiasts in Monterey, California.

Today, hundreds of millions of people watch talks on Ted.com each year and Nigerians have been quick to get in on the action with a TEDx event being held in Lagos during 2013. There are some truly inspirational Nigerian Ted Talks and we’ve put together a list of the best out there starting with the must see Ted Talk by our very own Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

1. “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The outstanding Ted Talk which Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave at TEDX Euston back in 2012 shook the world of TED. The Chimamanda Ted Talk is probably the most talked about Ted Talk ever given by any Nigerian. Chimamanda’s Ted Talk has a serious message about how we need to bring up our children differently – letting boys

know that it’s ok to be afraid whilst teaching girls that they don’t need to “shrink themselves” as Chimamanda puts it. The talk is beautifully put together with some anecdotes of how Chimamanda has been the subject of everyday discrimination in Lagos. Scroll down to the end of this post to watch “We Should All Be Feminists”. In Chimamanda’s own words:

“We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they’re already guilty of something and so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves…They grow up to be women who turn pretence into an art form”

2. “Falling all The Way to Success” by Jason Njoku

Jason Njoku is the London-raised Nigerian founder of Irokotv.com which allows streaming of Nollywood movies. In his Ted Talk which was given at the same TEDx event as the Chimamanda Ted Talk, Jason opens up to his audience about how his failures drove him to success.

Jason’s Ted Talk is a funny, self-mocking and honest account about the failures he encountered before finally making the decision in December 2010 to move to Lagos and set up a company providing access to free Nigerian movies. Amazingly, Irokotv has now grown to be the world’s largest distributor of Nigerian films but Jason jokes in his Ted Talk that he still uses a “pay as you go” mobile phone package because nobody will give him credit! In Jason’s own words:

“No matter how much you package it, no matter how much you hide it, failure is failure, the more we embrace it, the more we are honest with ourselves, the more easily we can move on… If someone like me can achieve what I’ve done in such a short period of time, think of what would happen if you smart people…go out there and do something”

3. “Pushing Entrepreneurial Boundaries” by Kola Karim

There’s nothing we Nigerians like better than a scheme to start up a business and make some quick cash. If you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug, this Ted Talk by 44 year-old Nigerian CEO of Shoreline Energy, Kola Karim, is a must-see.

Karim speaks in his Ted talk about the three solos of opportunity in Africa today – being financial services, infrastructure and consumer products. He appeals to his audience and says that with determination, focus and an identifiable market, Africans can succeed in setting up a business on their home turf as they know the continent, people and the culture in a way that large multinationals don’t. In Kola’s own words:

 “It’s strange. Think about it this way. The biggest coco plantations are on the content of Africa yet how many coco plantations sit there. The biggest gold mines, diamond mines sit on the continent of Africa, under the soils that you toil yet how many jewellery making factories are there? The rubber plantations comes from Africa. The reallity is how many tyre factories are there? They tell you the cost is too high. They close it. But what I want to say to you all is herein lies the opportunity for all of us”

4. “Welcome to Nollywood” by Franco Saachi

Why would an Italian filmmaker based in Boston come to Nigeria to make a documentary film about Nollywood? If you want to find out more, check out Franco Saachi’s insightful Ted Talk on the third largest film industry in the world.

Sacchi’s Ted Talk includes a 6 minute excerpt from his groundbreaking documentary This is Nollywood which features interviews with Nollywood directors including Mahmood Ali Balogun Milverton Nwokedi, Peace Fiberesima, Bond Emeruwa, Sonny McDon and Lancelot Imasen. For Saachi, Nollywood is a “story of hope resilience and glamour” and points out in his Ted Talk that the industry emerged from nothing to become an industry worth more than US$250 million. In Franco’s own words:

“I think that the key to a healthy society is a thriving community of storytellers and I think that the Nigerian filmmakers really have proved this” 

5. Nigeria in 41 Pictures by Kelechi Amadi-Obi

Kelechi Amadi-Obi is one of Nigeria’s finest photographers and took the stage at the Lagos TEDx event to showcase 41 amazing shots of the country. Amadi-Obi’s Ted Talk takes you on a breathtaking whistle stop tour of the photographs he took on a tour around Nigeria. Amadi-Obi’s photos include scenes from Zuma Rock, Guara Falls, the Palace of Zaria’s Emir, the Abuja Mosque, Olumu Rock, Niger Bridge and many other sites.

These photos may make you look at Nigeria in a completely different light and it is difficult not to buy in to Amadi-Obi’s compelling conclusion that Africans can understand who they truly are through the lens of a camera. In Kelechi’s own words:

“All the time we keep complaining. Complaining about the way Africa is being portrayed. We have one story. It’s all about poverty. It’s all about terrorism. It’s all about corruption…We need to understand who we are and it’s only when we understand who we are that we can go ahead”

Did you Know? Beyonce was so wowed by the Chimamanda Ted Talk that she used a series of samples from the Ted Talk in the second verse of her hit song Flawless. 

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