What does it take to create a movement for change agents? TED ( seems to have captured some of those essential ingrediants that turns inventive dreams into transformative platforms, connections and products, and at the same time electrifying all types of new creative for our entertainment.

We have been a part of this journey for the last 10 years. It started in 2007 when a group about 100 TED Africa fellows were connected at the first TED Global event in Africa. This event gave us a mirror to ourselves as Africa “Outliers” and innovators who struggled for definition within the ordinary tick boxes of our fields. A decade later and many of us are meeting again with a bigger more dynamic network and looking back to see how we have grown. Three things helped create that change:


  • The creation of the TEDx Franchise
  • The creation of the TED Fellows Program
  • The commitment of the TED network in Africa and the Diaspora.

The  TEDx network started in 2009 and is an example of the power of the generous and humble heart. Chris Anderson, curator of TED took a radical chance by allowing anyone to apply for a licence to connect with the TED brand through locally organised events. He was not deterred by the danger that “ordinary” people could destroy the brand and that belief has manifested in a global network of over 10,000 TEDx events in about 144 countries, connecting us all through the power of amazing ideas.

In the same year, the TED Fellows program was launched to bring up-and-coming innovators from around the globe to the conference for free. Joshua Wanyama and I, were part of the first group to benefit more directly as we joined the Class of 2009 Long Beach Inaugural Ted Fellows. Our business partnership Africa Knows was born out of that connection and our flagship TEDxNairobi event also helped us articulate what TED means for us, as Africans living in Nairobi.

So, imagine our immense pride at being asked to host the TED Nairobi auditions in February 2017, alongside Chris Anderson and the “Mothership” TED team. What we are able to capitalize upon was the passion of our local networks and the commitment of our diaspora communities, visible in the TEDxEuston community. Now we’re getting ready to welcome the selected speakers from the auditions: Nabila Alibhai, Christian Benimana, Eric Mibuari, Kisilu Musya, Washington Wachira and Ghada Wali on to the TED Global Stage this week.

They are also joining others our TEDxNairobi Community: Kamau Gachigi, Joel Jackson, Su Kahumbu, Bill Sellanga and Sauti Sol to showcase the abundant creative, intellectual and innovative talent that comes out of Kenya

There are many other Kenyan TED fellows here to cheer our people and celebrate their ascendance on to the global stage.

  • Erik Hershman
  • Ory Okolloh
  • Jessica Collacao
  • Segeni N’gethe
  • Alex Odundo
  • Juliana Rotich

Although post-election tensions at home threaten to disrupt our peace of mind, this week at TED Global in Arusha, with a focus on truth tellers, and catalysts, allows us to celebrate all that is great and possible when Kenyans unite.  Hebu tujenge Kenya

Share this