The story of TEDxMfuleni

Earlier this year, as organizers of TEDxCapetown, we were excited by the event’s success, but still wanted more.  

To maximise the potential that TEDx events can have, and to reach a broader community in South Africa, we decided to introduce the concept of TEDx to one of our local communities that has less access to such opportunities.

Ultimately, the goal is to spark off a number of TEDx events in under-resourced communities across the Cape Town metropolis. TEDxMfuleni aims to start that trend—showing that change starts with communities, communication and creativity. TEDx provides a platform for phenomenal locals to share their ideas, stories and skills with an audience that stretches from a community hall in the Cape Flats to online viewers across the globe. We want that to spread.

The theme for the event was “Creative Community” and English and Xhosa speakers shared their ideas on creative ways in which to make positive changes in our communities.

Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.“ The engagement in the presentations delivered in Xhosa was phenomenally different than that of the English talks, proving how much of a difference it makes to be addressed in the language of your heart.

What worked well:
Because we hosted the event in a community which we are not from, it was incredibly important to gain “buy-in” from various stakeholders and gate-keepers in the community. We met with various leaders and regularly met with the principal of the school which was hosting the event, to ensure we were on the same track at all times. Including the school’s alumni group gave them a reason to take ownership of the event and become an integral part of the planning process. 

For future TEDx events, this is the first step to take: it is critical to have a community member to lead the process. The purpose of TEDxMfuleni was to introduce the concept of TEDx to a community that otherwise may not have heard of it, with the hope of identifying individuals or groups in the community that may see its worth and take the initiative to run future events themselves.

We planned TEDxMfuleni to bring TEDx to a community who may not have been exposed to it before. After the event we were so glad that TEDx allowed us to showcase Mfuleni to a community who may not have been exposed to it before. There were people driving in a township after dark who might have never done that otherwise. It was awesome.

Submitted by TEDxMfuleni, TEDxCapetown organizers

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