Gbemisola Ibrahim, David Kokumo
The independently organized TED event which was initially scheduled to be held in 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic took place at the Performing Art Theatre, the University of Ilorin on Friday, 13th August 2021.
Despite the COVID-19 strain, Adebayo Abdulrahman, the Convener and a Law student of the University of Ilorin have made the TEDx Unilorin event-themed “Roots” possible. He said the vision behind the event was to bring the TED platform to the University of Ilorin and to tell our story in a way that people will know that there is something in understanding the past and how our past influences our future.
“Going back to our past, our source; the root is very important in understanding the future. You don’t have to inculcate the habit of the past or hold on to the past but if it is good, make it better. If it is bad, make it good.” He said.
It was a gathering of intellectuals who talked about varying topics ranging from Technology, Education, Journalism, and Development based on the theme of the program, “Roots” which over 100 students of the University of Ilorin graced.
The host, Akinyemi Muhammed (Princely x) gave a brief introduction as to the aim of the program which was to make individuals understand what their roots are and also bring them back to their roots citing intriguing life experiences and examples. This was shortly followed by an introductory remark by the Co-Convener, Bidemi Abdullateef.
Kunle Adebajo, an Investigative Editor, HumAngle shared with the attendees, the different dimensions a story can be seen and how it affects a report during his presentation on conflict reporting. He said, ” A report has to be objective to have credibility.”
Happenings around us are all embedded in our roots and one of the benefits of connecting to the roots is that it creates an enabling environment for compelling solutions. “To get data, we have to relate it to its root to avoid challenges living today and also projecting to the future”, Idris Munir, a Data Scientist said in his keynote.
The third keynote speaker, Dr. Aboyeji Adenyi Justus in his presentation “Paradox of Africa: Disconjoined from the root” distinguished between the singular and plural of a root, saying, “Everything connects to the root. When you take a thing from its root or get disconnected from the root, it dies.” He explained how slave trade, capitalism, and Neocolonialism are agents of disconnection.
Also in attendance was Barrister Hauwa Shaffi Nuhu, a Poet, Essayist, and Journalist who while Speaking about the politics of language, emphasized the importance of “Language” as a tool in getting back to our roots which is important in building our sense of self. However, She advised against tying ourselves to our roots as she mentioned some stereotypes associated with some tribes and how people see themselves as this profile built from their roots saying, “We are not our forefathers, we are who we are.”
During her presentation on “Stories will save Africa”, Anita Ebinehita, Managing Editor, HumAngle made it known the importance of knowing our stories and understanding the biases clouding these stories and the dynamics of the places we came from; our roots.
Fabosoro Adeleye, a former banker found the opportunity to go into his dream profession when he left the banking profession in 2006. He started Rear Edge Media and made various shows like Borokini–the first Yoruba language telenovela, Aajirebi, etc that encouraged the versatility of Yoruba culture and heritage. He pointed out that even though the Yoruba language is important in the world, people are constantly trying to forget their cultures and traditions. He said, “Roots are important, Roots give us clarity on who we are and so in all that we do, let’s ensure that we carry our Roots in everywhere we go.”
Ayoola Adeola, an acclaimed Pharmacist spoke on bad habits of the past and correcting them. She spoke in detail on the bad lifestyle choices people make that tell on their health, as healthy habits account for about 50% of factors that can cause good health. She made herself a case study and shared her experience as a student who made bad lifestyle choices rounding her presentation up by establishing that “The truth is we actually can do better, scratch that, we need to do better”
Adebayo Yusuf, also known as Sultan, a freelance photographer and filmmaker spoke on “How our crafts can help change the narrative”. He said, “There is no one who can tell a better story of Africa than we Africans”. He enumerated some Africans that have changed and are changing the African narrative the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Anthony Joshua, to mention but a few.
Presentations on Poems and intellectual discourse were made by some individuals. Amongst others were: Ogunlana Rukayyat who read her poem titled ” Africa’s power rooted in Ubuntu”, Pelumi Salako who read two of his poems titled “Desert dwellers” and “Desert traveller’s Prayer” to the delight of the Attendees, Hannah Ajayi and Abdussalam Faruk did a collaborative spoken word poem, Adewara Joses also made a spoken word presentation of his poem titled “Who is in the garden?”, Halima Adisa recited her poem titled “Truth” and Ameerah Yakub came up to the stage and made her comic presentation on Roots in a mix of her local Yoruba language and the English language, admonishing people to always remember to connect to their native Roots.
The event ended with the vote of thanks taken by the Convener, Adebayo Abdulrahman with the attendees commenting on how enlightened they were about the “Roots” and its importance.