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Richard has since sold TED and the event has tried to get more down to earth with ideas like TEDx which encourages individuals to create mini-TEDs.
TEDx is a viral, grass roots idea that inspires people anywhere to talk about anything and use the internet and social media to gain awareness. So this Thursday at 2pm TEDx comes to Somalia.
Who are you?
We are a diverse group of non-Somalis and Somalis. Sebastian is a filmmaker runs a foundation called What Took You So Long. I organize an annual TEDx event in DC called TEDxMidAtlantic, and recently oversaw the TEDxSummit in which 700 TEDx community leaders from 90+ countries came to Doha for a week-long gathering. We are working closely with Liban Egal, the founder of the First Somali Bank, and his team here in Mogadishu.
Where is the event being held?
It is being held in Mogadishu! We will share more specific details and timing to those attending, but we do need to be cognizant of the security situation here.
What is the budget?
There is no budget, but TEDx events do not have a high cost like TED conferences. They are smaller, shorter, and focused on the local community. The local community is supporting the event with supplies and other items. The items that do need to be purchased (food, signage, t-shirts, gear) are being funded by the group of organizers. The event will be free of charge for all attendees.
Tell us a little about the technical challenges.
We are webcasting the event live as it happens if all goes well, in addition to recording video. There are technical hurdles and a lack of equipment here, but the satellite Internet infrastructure is quite stable and works well.
What is your goal?
Mogadishu is changing and while some media have picked up on it, the general perception is still very negative towards Somalia. This negative perception can have a tangible impact on the ground, and it's important to share what's really happening. We want to showcase the positive stories that will inspire people to do more, change more, feel more.
Somalis genuinely think this is a turning point, with no active fighting inside the city for the first time in a while. There are hundreds of Somalis returning home from the diaspora to open businesses, buildings sprouting up and a real sense of rebirth in a marginalized, misrepresented community.
Any concerns that a conference that is known for charging thousands for admission to the audience to hear moguls, celebs and technocrats speak is a little odd for Mogadishu and Somalia?
That's the TED Conference -- TEDx events are different. There have been events in over 117 countries. There have been events held in the slums of Kibera outside Nairobi. TEDx events range from large and small, but the mission is the same: to bring together people to discuss new ideas and ways to build a better future within their community. This event will not cost any money and no agenda has been set -- we are simply hoping to share the voices of those in Mogadishu working hard to rebuild their city and country.
Is viral a good thing or an embarrassing thing after Kony 2012?
I think this is a much larger and multi-faceted question, but in terms of simply spreading awareness of TEDxMogadishu, I think Twitter and Facebook a good thing. Somalis overseas will be able to tune into the live stream, and perhaps the international community will see a different side of Mogadishu than is traditionally portrayed in the press.
Who is your audience?
We have no agenda and no specific audience, other than those Somalis currently in Mogadishu who want to hear and share ideas about what's next for this city. We also hope the international community will tune in to learn about the positive change in Mogadishu.
You might remember the suicide attack on the USAID sponsored event in Mogadishu. Any concerns about a repeat?
This event is being organized by Somalis and friends of Somalis (us) with no set agenda or government angle. It's simply a forum to come together to share ideas. We will be taking ample security measures and holding the event in a secure but accessible location.
How long is the event, what speakers are scheduled and what do you hope to achieve?
It will last 2-3 hours. Speakers will include a wide range of Somalis, some who have recently returned to Mogadishu and others who have lived through the conflict. They include a chef and restauranteur, a real estate developer, the founder of a university, the founder of First Somali Bank, a camel herder, a healthcare specialist, Somali journalists, and more.
The organizing team aims to build a foundation for more TEDx Mogadishu events to be held in the future and in turn hopefully give Somalia a trusted-space for spreading ideas.
How "micro" and "emerging" can TEDx get? Do you see people in Eyl, Hobyo or other regions doing this?
Absolutely! We would encourage TEDx anywhere there is an interest in sharing ideas. As I mentioned, TEDxKibera has been a huge success in Kenya.
The TEDx Mogadishu event is scheduled for internet broadcast this Thursday at 7:00am New York time, noon London (GMT) and 2pm in Mogadishu
For more information on the TEDx event in Mogadishu
Link to Event: