TEDx University of Pretoria: How six students brought TED to UP

Posted on October 15, 2018

The global phenomenon of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks and their format of connecting people through spreading ideas reached the University of Pretoria recently, as a result of six students’ tireless efforts.

TED, a concept originated in America, aims to bring fresh ideas and knowledge to audiences.  A TED talk is a video created from a presentation at a TED event. Talks are limited to 18 minutes and can focus on any topic. 

Student organisers: Emmanuel Adu-Awuku, Pelokazi Tandwa, Lauren Woods, Linet Kimathi, Malebo Nkosi, Keenan John Meyer

UP’s student team, comprising head organiser Linet Kimathi, Emmanuel Adu-Awuku, Keenan John Meyer, Lauren Woods, Pelokazi Tandwa and Malebo Nkosi, successfully hosted a TEDx event recently (TEDx refers to TED events hosted by other organisations). Kimathi, a TED enthusiast, says she was driven by her desire to attend a TEDx event close to her. “Having transferred to UP in January from the University of KwaZulu-Natal to start my MSc Environmental Economics degree, I was sure that there was bound to be a local TEDx event due to the high number of universities in Pretoria and Joburg. After finding no such thing, I decided to organise a team of students that were invested in the TED brand and were committed to the vision.”

After meeting TED’s stringent requirements, they were issued a one-year licence to organise one event within that year. “Because the licensing is under TED, the formatting of the event, speakers, branding, themes, as well as social media communication and other details are required to follow certain TED guidelines. This is because the TEDx talks by speakers on the day are required to be recorded in high quality, in a professional format, and submitted to TED, to then be uploaded on the official TEDx website, for viewing by millions of TED enthusiasts.”

The organising team identified individuals at UP and in the Pretoria area who are leaders in their fields and are part of activities that benefit their communities. “The criteria for speakers was generally people who were showing progressive thought and action through their fields of career or study and those who had projects that the public could benefit  by hearing about,” Kimathi says.

The theme of TEDxUniversityOfPretoria was “Dare to Invent the Future”, which sparked a dialogue of what the future could look like for communities, and what the speakers and audience members could do to make that future a reality.

Speakers, Weza Matomane, Rozina Myoya, Mikaela Oosthuizen, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, Nahungu Lionjanga, Charles Malanga, Siseko H. Kumalo.

Seven speakers were chosen for the TEDx event, which took place in September at the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus.

Mikaela Oosthuizen touched on feminism and the ability of women to intentionally claim the spaces they occupy. Her experiences as a model and band personality and her background in marketing and media communications informed her talk.

Charles Malanga focused on mental health and general wellbeing. His initiative, CiM Psychology, aims to spread mental health awareness.

Siseko H. Kumalo, editor of the Journal of Decolonising Disciplines, shared the findings of his scholarly work, as well as new thought processes and the way in which to look at the discipline of decolonisation.

Nahungu Lionjanga and Rozina Myoya, two female transport engineers working at UP’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, spoke about public transport in South Africa, and how that affects individuals daily. Their project, TransportTruths.com, aims to facilitate transport justice by giving a voice to marginalised individuals and societies who find themselves locked out of affordable or adequate public transport due to unjust public transportation planning.

Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, an entrepreneur and innovation leader, spoke on how to start a global business, risk-taking and dream chasing.

Finally, Weza Matomane, an established force in the South African entertainment industry, spoke about leading through having a deep understanding of our environments and the people we’re working with.

According to Kimathi, “Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Many people felt that the TEDx event was long overdue and should be a recurring event.” The team plans on hosting an event at least once a year as well as continuing TED’s presence on campus by registering as an official UP society in 2019.

- Author Primarashni Gower

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