In Africa’s largest slum, one TEDx event works to empower, enlighten, and enact change

Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, and according to Wikipedia, the largest urban slum in Africa, with over 100,000 people calling it home.
In 2009, Kibera native Kevin Otieno and Acumen Fellow Suraj Sudhakar came together to hold TEDxKibera, the first TEDx event held in the Nairobi slums, a place where most residents do not have electricity or running water.

Suraj and Kevin met while working on a film together in Kibera. Said Kevin, “During this period, Suraj shared the idea of TED with eight others and me. At first, as someone from Kibera, it sounded [like] an elite thing, but inside I had this conviction that I should give it a try.

"After watching the TED talks in a group, Suraj then threw a question to us: 'Guys, do you think we can organize such an event locally?' We all agreed in unison that we can…The first TEDxKibera we had only 40 people, which [mostly] were friends, but the second TEDxKibera had 96 people…As a person who has wanted to change the community, I found that power in TED and TEDx. To my surprise, people in the slum kept asking me, ‘When is another TEDx event?’”

A new article in Urb.im details the TEDx story in Kibera. Kevin talked with Urb.im, explaining more about his hopes for TEDxKibera: 

"I was interested in trying to develop different perceptions of the way we Kiberans see ourselves and thought an event like this would help the community to think outside of the box," he tells Urb.im. "The idea was to encourage people to stop feeling sorry for themselves and gain motivation through inspirational stories of men and women who have made it despite growing up in the slum…it has been very hard to convince people to be active agents of change and not passive recipients of humanitarian wisdom."

The next TEDxKibera event will be on September 14th, 2013. Visit their TEDx event page for more information.

(Above, photos of TEDx events in slum communities across Nairobi, including TEDxKibera)