5 Iconic TED Talks By Prominent Nigerians You Should Watch Today

No matter what interest tickles your fancy, there’s some TED talk clip for you.
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Since 1984, TED Talks have grown and proven to be the premier venue for idea-sharing and motivational keynote talks.  TED and TEDx conferences began with open addresses on subjects related to technology, entertainment, and design. Then, they expanded into events well-known throughout time for putting on some of the most thought-provoking and excellent public speaking events ever. 

No matter what interest tickles your fancy, there’s some TED talk clip for you. Professionals in different disciplines from several countries around the world have graced this stage. In most of them, the speakers leave the audience with a spirit to be part of the greater good and a will to contribute to social and political issues. 

As a nation brimming with brilliant minds and talented personalities, it’s no surprise that numerous Nigerians have graced the TED and TEDx stages to share their stories, opinions, and wisdom. Some of these events have even gone on to be phenomenal moments that will stand as memorable for years to come. Come with us as we take you through five TED Talks by Nigerians. 

5 Iconic TED Talks By Prominent Nigerians You Should Watch Today
Cr.: YouTube

Famous for her bestselling novels Purple Hibiscus and Half Of A Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has cemented herself among Nigeria’s most prominent writers. However, apart from her literary feats, Chimamanda has made a name as a renowned public speaker through her highly successful speeches, including her TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” posted in 2009. 

With over 15 million views, Adichie’s TED Talk became one of the most popular talks ever, demonstrating her as a beacon of hope and a voice that needed to be heard. She conveyed her concern about the underrepresentation of other cultures in the talk by taking the audience on a journey to her childhood. She mentioned how when she was younger, she used to read American and British books where the majority of the characters were Caucasian, highlighting the absence of representation of cultural differences while spotlighting its danger. 

She explained the value of delivering various anecdotes throughout the class with personal tales. Because humans are complicated, a single story should not be understood in isolation, as this leads to misunderstandings about people’s backgrounds, histories, and current circumstances, Adichie said.

In the spirit of giving iconic talks, she gave another speech in December 2012 titled “We Should All be Feminists” at TEDxEuston, where she discussed being a feminist. Here, she narrated stories from her experiences as a Nigerian woman dealing with misogynistic men. Ultimately, she provided extensive backstories to support her main argument that all sexes must embrace feminism. 

This speech created another memorable footprint when remarks from it were sampled for Beyonce’s 2013 smash hit “Flawless.”

Cr.: YouTube

Cobhams Asuquo, an amazing musician, prolific producer, and songwriter, is credited for several hits by well-known musicians, including Asa, Banky W, Omawumi, Dare Art-Alade, Waje, Timi Dakolo, Seyi Shay, Korede Bello, and Tiwa Savage. In the Nigerian music industry, Cobhams has established himself as a formidable force through his 2008-founded music production company, Cobhams Asuquo Music Production (CAMP). 

Asuquo’s production and co-writing of the critically acclaimed soul singer’s debut self-titled album, Asa, brought him recognition on a global scale. His influence and contribution to the African music industry were recently highlighted on CNN’s African Voices. Bez, a rising alternative soul performer, is the first of three artists signed to the CAMP record label by Cobhams. The Boston Globe featured Bez’s debut album, Super Sun, as one of the top ten “world music” albums in 2011. Since then, he has gone on to receive numerous honours in the African and international music and film industries.

Asuquo’s talk at TEDxEuston is an excellent testament to the blessing of the TED and TEDx platforms. The talented musician and producer took the audience through his journey from overcoming his disability and fear of failing to becoming a highly-regarded music producer and composer. In this talk, he underlines that to achieve this, one must be “blind” to outside influences.

He further highlighted the importance of not excusing failure, trust, and, most importantly, adopting blindness as a practical resource for focus. 

5 Iconic TED Talks By Prominent Nigerians You Should Watch Today
Cr.: YouTube

19 years ago, the Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 crash in Port Harcourt rocked the hearts of many Nigerians at home and abroad. The tragic flight had 107 passengers and left only two survivors. With 60 of the victims being her schoolmates from Loyola Jesuit College, Kechi Okwuchi was one of the two crash survivors. She was given a 30% chance of survival after suffering third-degree burns over 65% of her body.

Okwuchi underwent more than a hundred reconstructive procedures after receiving emergency medical attention and treatment in hospitals in South Africa and the USA. Since then, she has become the beacon for resilience and made remarkable strides, such as being a finalist on the 12th season of American Idol. 

She also went on to receive a Magnum Cum Laude in Economics and Marketing in 2015 from the University of Saint Thomas in Texas, USA. At the commencement ceremony, she gave a student speech.

Okwuchi delivered a stirring Ted Talk at Euston in December 2015. Her talk focused on why young females should discover and pursue their purpose. Despite their concerns, she exhorts parents to accept their children’s decisions. Even though this speech is three years old, it still has many priceless lessons for today’s women. 

Cr.: YouTube

While serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2013, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano, delivered this speech.

It discusses the idea of entrenched interests, which suggests that the governing class in Nigeria has corrupt and hidden agendas. He illustrates this point by using the examples of former bank CEOs who embezzled public cash for their private gain.

He concludes by urging young people to get together and choose more deserving leaders. The subject is contentious because it reveals the corrupt inner workings of Nigerian government officials.

During his reign as the CBN governor, Sanusi was recognized as one of the 100 most essential individuals worldwide, and he was selected as TIME Magazine‘s 2011 “Person of the Year in Africa.” 

Cr.: YouTube

There are a few people in Nigeria credited with leading Nigeria’s innovations in tackling climate change and preserving the environment. Amina J. Mohammed is one of them. 

She served as the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Minister of Environment before being appointed the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General. Her first role at the UN was as Special Advisor to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012, overseeing development planning for the years after 2015. 

In her riveting TED talk, she traces her career path from the private sector to a prominent position in the development sector. She talks about problem-solving and commitment to a cause. She feels everyone, especially young people, should be held accountable and involved in progress.


Taiwo Hassan is a lifestyle & culture writer at Modaculture.

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