Thursday, May 27, 2010

VijanaFM @ TEDxDar

I was able to attend TEDxDar on Saturday along with another member of VijanaFM so I wanted to do a quick review of the event while it was still fresh in my mind. I've been trying to post this since Monday, but alas the internet in Dar has been letting me down.

The event overall was very well organized and coordinated for a grassroots effort and the first event of its kind in Dar. It was even streamed live on the net as well as supported by live blogging and tweeting. There were some minor technical hiccups and heavy rain but those were overcome relatively smoothly. It was also a great networking opportunity to meet likeminded folks in the city as well as drive change through collaborative work.

There were a range of speakers at the event ranging from a retired professor speaking about the need for equality between Swahili and English to a social entrepreneur working on a carbon offset venture. They spoke along the themes of ‘What would Nyerere do?’, ‘Hadithi zetu’ and ‘In Between the spaces’ each sharing their perspective on one of the themes.

To give you a feel of each of the speakers I’ll try summarizing some quick points:

Prof Pete Mhunzi
  • Why equal bilingualism (giving Swahili the same importance as English in business and formal communication) is key to shaping Tanzania’s identity and culture.
Jamie Yang (Co-Founder EGG Energy):
  • Spoke about what he has learned through his startup.
  • Its expensive to be poor because water, money and electricity cost more per unit than in the ‘west’?
  • The poor actively manage their finances and have their own unique portfolio of cash, assets as well as short and long term borrowing.
  • The poor value quality products and will pay for them.
  • We need to see more social investment.
  • More businesses need to serve the poor first then grow up instead of the other way round.
Sarah Mikes and Mejah Mbuya (Street Level):
  • Promoting preservation of Dar Es Salaam’s architectural and cultural heritage.
  • Created a series of cartoon sketches that depict daily life in Dar as well as landmark buildings.
  • Dar is a dynamic city with a lot of history.
  • How can we create a more sustainable city?
  • How can we influence policy makers to be more sustainable?
Babu Sikare – Spoke about his experiences with albinism from his childhood days till present. He also expressed his reaction towards the albino killings in Tanzania. He’s started an NGO – Afrobino Inc that is working to educate albino’s about their condition and what they can do to prevent skin cancer which kills an average albino before the age of 35.

Rakesh Rajani – Told two stories. One of despair and another of hope. His first story illustrated the lack of education and medical in rural Tanzania. Swanky clinics are being built but there are not sufficient teachers, medical equipment, medical staff etc. ‘The hardware exists but none of the software’ is available. The second story was about a farmer who on the surface was just a subsistence farmer but in reality had a lot of profitable side businesses. Plenty of dynamism and innovation exists, we just need to get out of people’s way.

Selemani Kinyunyu – Started east Africa’s first carbon offset company ‘Offset Africa.’ He’s working with rural communities to offset carbon emissions whilst also improving local farming/environmental practices.

Vicensia Shule – Spoke about art, drama and dance in Tanzania and in particular about the cultural policies that have been established over time since independence. She was critical of Mwalimu Nyerere in that a concrete cultural policy was not defined during his tenure which left a gap till today in how the government views cultural affairs.

Modesta – Discussed the lack of human resource talent in Tanzania. She envisions confident, tenacious, professional, altruistic, entrepreneurial and patriotic Tanzanians and this will only be possible if we have a national vision to fill this gap with every policy geared towards this vision.

Young Kimaro - Described how each and every Tanzanian must change their cultural habits so that they do the best they can every day, every week, every month, every year if we are to compete with other nations. She compared how tiny Mauritius is able to draw 100 times more tourists because of their great service all the time.

My biggest critique of the sessions was that a lot of the discussion was geared around identifying or communicating problems that exist and less on identifying concrete solutions that could be put into place. Maybe I’m a little too optimistic.

What are your thoughts on the themes/issues discussed? Did you attend the event in person or online? Please leave your comments.


  1. thanks for the update. I am eagerly awaiting the clips if there are any, I missed the webcast.

  2. I'm sure they recorded the video while they were broadcasting.

  3. I think it was a very good start. I tried to follow the whole thing on some blogs and got a glimpse of what was happening. Kudos to the organizers and all the ppl who took part in many diff. ways.

    Regarding your critique, well, I am with you there, although I think some of them (e.g. Kimaro, Kinyunyu and Sikare) tried to tackle respective problems well.

    I am already looking fwd to the next TEDxDar. Do you have any info regarding the next conference?

  4. Hey guys, thanks for your comments and feedback of the event. We will definitely take all of it into account for the next one.

    In regards to the recorded talks, everything will be available for public consumption online (hopefully soon) once we've finished the editing. Will definitely keep you updated.