Welcome back to this space. I give you the final summary of how the 2015 TedxEuston speakers took us from vision into reality.
“I am here to recruit you” “I am here to recruit you now – to take up a leadership role in your country or your continent. Your country needs you now. Not when you are older or more experienced, but now”. It was with this startling offer of recruitment that Lindiwe Mazibuko took to the podium. This South African lady of valor was until not too long ago, the leader of the Opposition in the South African National Assembly. This made her the Democratic Aliiance’s youngest – ever leader of parliament and the first black woman in the history of South Africa to be elected to the post of Leader of the Opposition.
She told us how the “African Diaporan” cash transfers from Africans living outside the continent has exceeded Donor Aid in recent times 60 billion versus 44.4 billion US Dollars. “If we can send our money, we can also spend our time and send our selves” She told us how it was all about skills, talent and leadership remittance to the motherland. She explained that one reason most of our governments are not performing as well as they should is because they are not being held accountable when our systems go dysfunctional. She advocated that it was no use to stand by and watch while presidents keep amending constitutions for fourth terms claiming they are the only ones alive that can do the job properly. “There is no one else who can come and save us from us! We are the ones who will save us from us! We have to get involved in numbers big enough to make the change we seek” She emphasized how there will always be the huge challenges that hold “us” back from holding public offices however, she made it clear that we need to persevere and not allow someone else to benefit from the absence of excellence in our nations.
Lindiwe tried to broker a deal with all of us in the audience. This Master of Public Administration Graduate from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government told us “ I want to make a deal with you. I am not going to go back to active politics unless you go with me”. Judging by the thunderous applause from the audience at the end of her speech, she sure has many in on this deal.
To fight Ebola and live to tell the tale is no mean fit! Miatta Gbanya was the Deputy Incident Manager in Liberia’s Command and Control Structure during its response to the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015. Miatta, held the hall spell bound with her story which began with how she grew up in crisis, matured in crisis and eventually, she has now become a master crisis manager.
She told us how in her early years, her family was constantly on the move to avoid one war or the other. She told us how her late father did every thing he could so his beautiful daughters would not be adopted by the rebels in then war ravaged Liberia. First, her little sister died from severe acute malnutrition then a second sister also died from Cholera. At that point, it was clear to her that she could only go down the route of health care provision – she became a Nurse.
She told of how she worked hard and persevered to get educated through scholarships. She obtained her Masters Degree in Public Health from BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh here she states “I learnt the reality of Public Health in a very practical place”.
Following this, she took up a job as a Field Health worker in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Next, she went on to work in Sudan (Darfur) and South Sudan with the Merlin and Malaria Consortium, managing various public health projects. She went back home to Liberia and then came Ebola. “The Ebola outbreak started by taking the very best of us. Many good health care workers died first “.
As the Deputy Incident Manager in Liberia’s Command and Control Structure for the Ebola Response at the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, she told us of how she did not do it on her own, but with the help of the entire team. In her own words, she painted the vivid picture of how a few, fought hard as a team at the expense of their own lives, to save a nation ravaged by disease and torn by fear. “ We cried at night and rose up to mount our response in the day. No responsibility is easy. We all had to work diligently”. It was with emotion in her voice she told us how lucky she felt to be alive t tell this tale.
“When I look back, I think I am no better than those who died. However, they died for a worthy cause. A cause we should all emulate. They died for our nation – they died for our continent”.
“I fought Ebola with the skills I learnt from the field. You all can make a positive difference for our Continent in your own different ways – our countries need us! I leave you with the words of Madiba (Nelson Mandela): Education is the corner stone to the change you want to make in the world and it is not the number of times we fall that matters, but the number of times we rise!”
Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili
Dr. (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili sobered us all up when she reminded us it was the 600th day anniversary of the #BringBackOurGirls. This is the Citizen’s movement she co-founded, advocating for the safe rescue of the over 200 school-girls of Chibok community in Northern Nigeria that were purportedly abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents.
This former vice –President of the World Bank (Africa Region) in Washington D.C where she was responsible for operations in 48 countries, told us how the bane of African nations stemmed from the fact that “our elite do not understand the difference empathy makes in public policy”. She traced the response her self and the team generated to get the world to notice the disappearance of the Chibok 219 girls – the girls who have come to represent those who are victims of Nigeria’s insurgence. “What has all this got to do with from vision to reality you may ask? A lot – because our girls were successfully abducted and they are still in captivity 600 days after because of ‘Governance Failure’. Governance failure is the worse thing that could have happened to Africa and especially, to Nigeria. Nigeria is a country which at her independence, evoked very deep potentials that people around the world acknowledged”. Dr Ezekwesili explained how many persons around the world especially many non-Nigerians are disappointed that Nigeria has not yet come true to what they imagined she would become after over 50 years post her independence – our positive reality is yet to manifest.
She reminded us of the Japanese saying that to have a plan without a vision is a nightmare but to have a vision without a plan is a daydream. Our governing elite need to understand how important it is to have planned empathetic public policies that are properly enforced in order to translate the Nigeria of our dreams to reality. A Nigeria where every life is considered important, safe and accounted for. The entire hall reinforced our support for and believe in the positive Nigeria of our visions the with our solidarity chants in reality of #BringBackOurGirls.
Meeting Kechi Okwuchi , the final speaker for the day at TedxEuston 2015 Vision to Reality Conference was a very humbling experience for me . It was a meeting that made me question our shared humanity; my purpose and the true meaning of happiness. I dare say, many other persons at the Mermaid Centre that day shared my similar experience.
Kechi Okwuchi, is one of two survivors from the ill fated December 10th 2005 Sosoliso Plane Crash in Nigeria. 60 of Kechi’s Loyola Jesuit College Abuja School mates died amongst others on that flight. Now an economics graduate of the Univeristy of St. Thomas where she was the student speaker at the 2015 Commencement Ceremony. She told us unapologetically of her faith in God and how her family kept her going after the tragedy that befell her. “My own way has been to rely solely on God. My family has helped me a lot – I have come to understand the Bible more too. This 26-year-old lady spoke of how her world has become larger since her accident. She challenged us to “know thy self”. Furthermore, she declared, “our passions give rise to our visions. If we are allowed to explore our passions, our visions manifest and we sure will be happy”. Getting the book “Refined for Rebirth” is one sure way to come to full grasp with how one can start again from ground zero – it is the full chronicle of Kechi’s inspiring story
She brought the day to an inspirational close when she told us “ I make my decisions based on who I am and not what I look like. I pray that all young people are free to explore their own passion and discover themselves – creating their reality from their vision.”
What more can I say? The well-chosen speakers have each in heir own way, inspired and ignited us. This is one inspiring event Iorettareveals recommends to every one because, every year; there sure is at least one thing to learn and many other elevating specimens of humanity to mingle with. Till I update you with another inspiring event, in January 2016, it is a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at the Loretta Reveals Team.