Nigerians are familiar with New York-based TED Talk, the prestigious platform devoted to spreading short, incisive life-changing ideas. The licensee of TEDxCalabar, Bryce Edem, told PREMIUM TIMES’ Bassey Udo, the new platform will soon birth in Nigeria as an annual event to provide ideas to shape attitudes, lives and solve native and global problems.
PT: What is TEDxCalabar all about? Any affiliation with TED Talk?
Bryce: TEDxCalabar is an annual event for ideas with the power to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. It’s an offering of free knowledge and inspiration from exceptional thinkers and doers who engage with a multi-disciplinary community, providing the richest possible landscape for creative collusion.
It’s a journey through a world of extraordinary ideas, born of, and driven by curiosity. It’s a ‘Talk Station’ for people with powerful ideas to solve the world’s specific, identifiable problems.
It’s a platform to showcase unknown people who do remarkable things, to create significant value, who do cutting-edge work across different causes, providing ingenious solutions to native and global challenges.
It’s a space that fuels impassioned conversations, which rouse individuals, brands and governments to set and achieve audacious, wildly-ambitions goals.
It’s a safe, congenial place for people to connect, network, and make meaningful contribution to the lives of others.
It’s a space for a typical, intrepid, disruptive chat that engenders introspection and retrospection.
It’s an event that reveals how the Calabar community is expanding perceptions, driving culture, tackling challenges, and creating new opportunities locally and globally.
It’s a high-octane, community-driven, independently-organized TED Talk in Calabar, Nigeria. Yes, TEDxCalabar is a licensed event from New York-based TED – the world’s most prestigious idea-generating organization, devoted to spreading ideas through incisive 18 minutes or less talks on ‘‘ideas worth spreading.’’
PT: How would TEDxCalabar serve as the ideas platform for Nigeria’s future national development?
Bryce: The world’s great economies run on ideas. Although TED captures three broad subjects, namely Technology, Entertainment and Design, they collectively shape the future. It showcases ideas that matter in any discipline.
It will create an immersive environment where creative innovators, organizations, thought leaders and key enablers from vastly different fields can cross-fertilize.
It will build partnerships, create, promote and support great ideas. It will be a platform to discover, clarify and hopefully, help execute ideas.
PT: What inspired the TEDxCalabar vision?
Bryce: Simple – desire! To feature and fuel conversations with some of the most-fascinating thinkers and doers; discover and amplify ideas that can change the world; mine and optimize the creative and innovative ecosystems; bring passionate, open-minded change-agents together in an inspired atmosphere of authentic dialogue and extraordinary thinking; build a multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary community driven by big, bold and new ideas; unlock in people the capacity to advance and be more; engender intense digging into the fertility of imagination; kindle disruptive innovation; stoke the flames of ideas-based revolution; connect people with live-changing anecdotal experiences as a tool for personal transformation; cause a reformative construction of a better world, and make significant contribution to make the world a better place than we found. What we do for ourselves dies with us. But what we do for others and the world is immortal.
It’s that drive for self-actualization that has engendered personal social responsibility.
In a fable, the hummingbird – one of the animals affected by a forest fire – attempted to quench the fire, one drop of water at a time.
When other animals asked: ‘What are you doing?’ The hummingbird replied: ‘‘I’m doing the best I can.’’
Through TEDxCalabar, we, like the hummingbird, could make a big difference with a small, but persistent drop of collective efforts. We will do the best we can to create our impact wherever we are.
PT: Who are you talking to?
Bryce: In the TED tradition, TEDxCalabar serves a heterogeneous, diversified, and broadly-inclusive audience, including CEOs, scientists, creatives, students, philanthropists, people of faith, people in government and public service, academia, entrepreneurs, professionals – just anyone who loves, wants to spread and see ideas change the world.
PT: One of Nigeria’s biggest challenges is youth unemployment. Would TEDxCalabar be a change agent for the youth?
Bryce: What you’re looking for in Sokoto could be in your sokoto. One of the speakers at the maiden TEDxCalabar event is a leading innovation and change specialist, with a passion to build capacities, to help compete in the global knowledge economy. The crash in global oil prices has imposed a new economic reality on the world. The search for alternative economic options is inevitable, to save the world from the horrible scenario imposed on the world, including Nigeria.
With the pressure on governments to diversify the economy, Nigeria bleeds profusely from deep cuts by recession. The speaker will offer a big, bold and audacious solution to the problems, not in concepts or theories; history or fantasies, but in the creative reservoir in the people, including the youth, for a progressive revolution.
Two TEDx initiatives are in the pipeline. One is TEDxYouths@Calabar, to be characterized by fun, imagination, hunger for new ideas, creative collusion and leadership development. It will connect young people with disruptive youths who make global impact in different fields.
The other is TEDxCalabarWomen, a typical community of women passionate about creating positive change; a showcase of new and big ideas from women; a fireside to spark discussions on women and girl-child issues; a place to kindle uncommon women achievements and celebrate female ingenuity.
PT: What should we be looking forward to in TEDxCalabar?
Bryce: TEDxCalabar is configured for curious minds. It will serve a potpourri of passion, inspiration, beauty, optimism, laughter, tears, authentic dialogue, strategic thinking, thought leadership, visionary insights, ingenuity and ideas capable of changing the world.
Here will be a line-up of speakers: A Sloan Fellow from Stanford University with financial services experience; a clinical lead at Cross River State Diabetic Retinopathy Screening and Treatment Service and former acting Chief Medical Director University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and one of Nigeria’s foremost Consultant Ophthalmologists; a marketing strategist, distinguished toastmaster, TEDxPortland, speaking coach and author, ‘How to Rock a TED Talk; a global voice in environmental activism and recipient of the 31st Rights Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) 2010; a Speaker of a State House of Assembly; a High School girl who won the 2015 Global Technovation Challenge; a higher education investor and founder of Nigeria’s first online university; a mixed media and experimental artist who ‘resurrects’ rich, comatose cultural values through art; and a female executive director of a wholly-indigenous conglomerate with a passionate to shatter the mythical psychology and social construct of glass ceiling.
A Calabar-based, all-female, instrumental music crew who, with poise, polish and panache, play excellent, exquisite and exceptional music of different genres will perform.
Another Calabar-based recording artiste who was finalist at The Voice Nigeria – the internationally-acclaimed reality singing competition; a performance poet; and one of Africa’s foremost percussionists, will feature.
PT: TEDxCalabar – why Calabar? Where else?
Bryce: As a TEDx rule, names must reflect the community the event will serve. Internal events are named after the organization. For instance, TEDxPREMIUMTIMES, University events take after the institution, like TEDxUNICAL; and standard events (like TEDxCalabar) is location-based.
PT: What’s the future like for TEDxCalabar? Another beautiful fantasy?
Bryce: TEDxCalabar has set a 10-year strategic plan. We envision a ticketed audience of not less than 1,000 attendees in four years. We hope to grow at not less than 20 per cent every year. Before Year 4, we hope to bring TEDxYouths@Calabar and TEDxCalabarWomen.
We believe that the holistic quality of TEDxCalabar will result in consistent numerical growth of our audience. If we build it, they will come. If we create significant value, they will come.
So, by 2020, we envision a sold-out event with an attendance of not less than 5,000 people, holding at the 5,000-seating capacity Calabar International Convention Centre.
We envision TEDxCalabar to become one of the outstanding TEDx events in the world, in terms of attendance, ideas, content, viewership and quality of speakers, value of talks, delivery of talks, audience experience, local voices, community connection, event production and overall event value.
We are confident TEDxCalabar will positively impact individuals, brands, the Calabar community and Nigeria. We set our eyes, with unbroken focus, on our goals, undiminished passion, unshakeable faith and unwavering grit – even us, here and now.
PT: Thank you for your time.
Bryce: Thanks for having us.