Last month, I gave a TEDx Talk titled “To change the world, change your illusions” at TEDxBrixton, which has now been uploaded on YouTube.
Watching the clip takes me right back to the day: all the great talks, the wonderful TEDxBrixton team, the excitement and nerves but most of all the energy in a room of people wanting to grow and learn together. It was incredible. I hope you can catch that collective vibration even virtually.
I had fifteen minutes to share a story about the beauty of Africa and African womanhood, my own work, feminism in Africa: its contentions and opportunities, and how ultimately we all are connected.
Please watch and share the talk to help spread the message of Africa, Feminism in Africa, Women, Power & Radical change!!!
Great talk, which got stronger and more sinuous as it went along. And a wonderfully neat but stimulating ending.
I thought, having started with an account of two elderly matriarchs, you might offer a view of the intersection of age and gender and how this plays out in Europe and Africa. Age can offer useful exemptions and privileges for Africa women, it is said.
The crowd, though attentive, was a little dour – they seemed to miss your sly joke about your surname.
You should write more extensively about that household you were brought up in. You talked about how obedient and well behaved children became in front of your fathers mother but I wondered how your father behaved in this setting.
I live close to Brixton where does TED hold? In the 02 Academy?
Thank you for watching, Ebele, and for the comment.
I’m delighted someone got my ‘witty’ surname joke, he he.
Although the space it took place in – Evelyn Grace Academy (do you know it?) – is impressive, a Zaha Hadid designed building and all that, I do not think it’s ideal for something like tedx because it’s got a hyper modern, tech-y atmosphere which indeed lends to dourness rather than warmth. But the upbeat energy of the day gave it a challenge.
Just thought I’d share a post about my childhood home below but thank you for the topic suggestion, noted. In fact, while preparing the tedx talk it occurred to me that it was a long time since I wrote about those experiences. ‘Age privilege’ intersecting with gender is another good one! Have you heard of/read Oyeronke Oyewumi? She has written a lot about gerontocracy in southwestern Nigeria. She is worth reading, a brilliant academic but quite a criticised one, and rightly so, I might add.
Thanks again for stopping by.
Thank you for your reply and the info on the Evelyn Grace Academy. Amazing that Brixton and Coldharbour Lane actually has a Zaha Hadid designed building – tho’ I can see what you mean about its hyper-modern alienating effect ( from internet pics).
Thank you for the link to the piece on your childhood home and religion. It is good to read – there was little mention of Islam/Christianity in your TED talk on feminism – now I look forward to a more extended piece.
I will check out Ronke Oyewumi.
As our people say, more grease to your elbow!
I was surprised too when I found out it was going to be in a Zaha Hadid building on CL! And a school at that. Not enough PR methinks.
James Chikonamombe says
Nice talk, Minna. Your “Afro-European” background is almost becoming the norm for diaspora Africans living in Europe. Some of the sharpest proponents of Africa (and some of its harshest critics) are bi-cultural Africans, at home in both the African and European worlds. Maybe, more cultural output from Africans with more varied worldviews could help us unlock our vast potential (in all areas).
Thank you, James. I would not say that Afro-European (if with the term you mean mixed heritage Africans) are the majority of Africans in Europe. Don’t have any numbers to hand but looking around this joint we don’t seem the majority. One of the things that perhaps engages bicultural Africans with Africa are the privileges that come with our experiences, perhaps also the internal conflict that we go through at some point in our lives. But I reckon we are no more or less engaged with African affairs than monocultural Africans. In fact, in Afropolitan sentiment, I am not sure there are many monocultural Africans at all. Our continent is so dispersed and cosmopolitan, as is our diaspora. Furthermore, inwardly, to the extent we can speak of ‘the African psyche’, it would be a multi-cultural one, right? Would be interesting to hear your take.
James Chikonamombe says
If you mention the “African psyche” then immediately, the question has to be asked, “but, what is an African?”. Prof Ali Mazrui tried to broach that topic by positing several aspects of our supposed psyche, for example, “Africans have a short memory of hate”, but before he had even sat down, Prof Wole Soyinka shot back: “but, you’re not an African!” So, that subject is extremely hard to deal with. You’re dealing with an extremely dynamic subject-matter (i.e Africans!)
On the question of being Afro-European I meant someone who is pulled culturally from both Africa and Europe, and not necessarily just in a racial sense. I spent almost 6yrs as a child living in England (late 70s) and I know what I’m talking about. Our parents then were Africans (that word again) living in Europe; today’s Africans in Europe are much more Afro-European in that they share so much (culturally) with their White European neighbours. Our parents did not; they lived in their own African bubble.
Hello James, thanks for responding and for the Mazrui/Soyinka anecdote. Interesting! I wrote ‘to the extent we can speak of ‘the African psyche’ precisely because of the tensions you mention. Yet I do believe that we can, and should, discuss an African psyche where suitable. For example, the book ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ by Frantz Fanon would not exist if Fanon did not look at some possibly common psychologies that emerge from the experience of the Africa label. Pan-Africanism too, although largely a political and economic project today, also has roots in being a psycho-social idea that assumes that there is such a thing as an African way/s of being in the world.
Thanks for clarifying what you meant by Afro-European. That’s another interesting one, the generation differences, which indeed exist. However, I think then in the 60s/70s too there were Africans who assimilated and today, there are African migrants who do not assimilate per se.
Nicely done, Minna! Nice, fresh perspective and great points with examples aptly illustrating them. I could tell you got more and more comfortable in speaking as the talk went along. Proud of you. I, for one, am glad you decided to become a writer. And how could the audience have missed the joke about your name?(rolling my eyes)…that was sharp.
Thank you so much for watching and commenting, Nike. I did get more comfortable as it went on. I am happy with it considering the nervous wreck that I was on the day ! Thanks for being glad that I started writing 🙂 I value your steady support.
I watched your video a few days ago and I just couldn’t resist writing a piece on it and sharing your video on my blog as I relate to it a lot . Coincidentally, I am currently in SOAS, doing a phd research on schooling and the formation of gender roles and identities in Nigeria. I have had to audit some gender theory courses and I have been really enlightened on so much truth like the issue of age by Oyeronke Oyewumi. Nkiru Nzwegu also writes about that too as well Audrey Smedley’s work on the power and position of Birom women in Jos during the precolonial era. I’m excited about your work and I also enjoyed your post about the difficulty some women face in acknowledging that they are feminists. Just like you rightly noted, I think you wake up one morning and it literally jumps on you, you really cant help it(at least i couldn’t in my case). Coming from a purely economic background, it was a bit of a shock to my supervisor that I wanted to do my research on gender, something I had no prior knowledge about. Lastly, thanks for the resources available on the blog, they have been really helpful in my research. And by the way, were you supervised by Colette Harris in SOAS?
Sanchia Alasia says
Really great, talk covering so many pertinent issues. Well done. I really enjoy your blog too!
Thank you Sanchia! 🙂