Chimamanda’s Danger of a Single Story remains the most popular TED Talk on Africa of all time. The talk boasts more than 9 million views on the TED website and 1 million+ views on Youtube. I researched other African women sharing great insight on the TED stage and found 10 of the best that was produced in 2015. Here are 10 African women who gave inspiring Ted Talks last year:
1. Memory Banda
At 18, I was most concerned with getting the latest Iphone. Memory Banda on the other hand, successfully influenced the Malawi parliament to raise the legal marriage from 15 to 18. After watching her sister get pregnant at 11, Memory vowed to defy the traditional practice of kusasafumbi, a practice in which young girls are forced into marriage once they begin menstruation. Now an avid girl’s rights activist, Memory shows a glimpse of her strength and resilience in this passionate speech about girls right to choose at the TEDWomen 2015 conference.
2. Taiye Selasi
Discounted by some as a “First World Problem”, Taiye’s Selassi talk about the question “Where are you from?” is very important in light of the continued migration of people around the world. Taiye has lived in four continents and her critically acclaimed book “Ghana Must Go,” details the complexity of human identity.
3. MaameYaa Baofo
Although Nollywood has established itself as an industry to be reckoned with in Africa, many African parents are still unlikely to be thrilled with a child actively choosing acting as a desired profession. MaameYaa Baofo, a New-York based Ghanaian actress, is also gifted orator. In this talk, she uses her experience of pursuing acting despite discouragement from others to discuss the importance of being your authentic self without apology.
4. Zodidi Jewel Gaseb
Zodidi is a Namibian woman who discusses the impacts of Western beauty ideals on women through her personal journey of wearing her hair natural. She was inspired to grow out her naturally kinky hair after she realized that her daughter perceived her long flowy extensions as the standard of beauty. She challenges negative stereotypes about black hair in this short but poignant video:
5. Yawa Hansen-Quao
“Your voice is your Power” is the key message of this inspiring video by Ghanaian born and US raised Yawa Hansen-Quao, the leader of the Leading Ladies Network (LLN). Her talk aligns with the ethos of the LLN, an organization dedicated to encouraging young women to participate in entrepreneurship and leadership.
6. Mallence Bart-Williams
Mallence is the founder of Folorunsho, a Not-for-profit organization that she says is “not a charity”. Mallence believes charities in Africa foster the rhetoric of poverty and dependency on the West. She briefly explores the impact of post-colonialism on African countries as the impetus for her collective which connects a group of street boys aged 14 – 20 living in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone Lion Base and encourages them to be self-sufficient through creativity:
7. Ola Orekunrin
Becoming one of the youngest medical doctors in England at the age of 21 was just the tip of the iceberg for Ola Orekunrin’s promising career. She went on to create The Flying Doctors initiative, West Africa’s first emergency air ambulance service. The success of her initiative earned her a New Voices Fellow at the Apsen Institute and a Young Global Leader title by the World Economic Forum in 2013. In this TEDxTalk, she address the sexism women in business and positions of power experience, despite their noteworthy achievements.
8. Afua Hirsch
An experienced journalist, Afua Hirsch is the social affairs and education editor for Sky News. In this refreshingly honest video, Afua asserts that we do not live in a post-racial society as there are still several stereotypes associated with blackness. She refutes the popular “ I don’t see colour” rhetoric by explaining that we cannot transcend racial tension and microaggressions without having honest conversations about race.
9. Ekua Armah
Ekua was a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in health promotion and disease prevention students at the time of this speech. As a public and women’s health educator, Armah discusses using social media as a transformative tool to enhance women’s lives.
10. Salima Visram
Visram is the founder of the social enterprise, Solour Backpack. The problem: school children in certain rural areas in Kenya do not have access to lights and electricity to complete their school assignments, thus creating a vicious cycle of poverty. To address this issue, the backpack company leverages the power of the sun by outfitting their backpacks with solar panels which provides electricity to the school children at night. In this TedxTalk, Visram discusses children’s inability to stay in school and the work we can do to prevent this.
What were some of your favorite speeches in 2015? Do you plan on giving a speech or TED Talk this year? Do share with the community.