News / Africa

Tech Wizard Launches New Sudan in TED World

Part 2 of the Africa's Rising Star reports

The world's views of traditional and poverty-stricken Sudan are being revised by young Sudanese invited to appear on TEDx Khartoum by its entrepreneurial host, Anwar Dafa-Alla. (Courtesy Anwar Dafa-Alla)
The world's views of traditional and poverty-stricken Sudan are being revised by young Sudanese invited to appear on TEDx Khartoum by its entrepreneurial host, Anwar Dafa-Alla. (Courtesy Anwar Dafa-Alla)
A 36-year-old computer engineer established TEDx Khartoum - a vibrant international platform of conferences and lively debates about a new Sudan three years ago.
 
Anwar Dafa-Alla introduced Sudan, its people and new ideas to the world with the international YouTube success of his own version of Technology, Entertainment and Design – a global video conferencing phenomenon called TEDx.
 
Dafa-Alla and his friends are now telling the story of Sudan – and publicizing ideas that he says are worth spreading – by sharing the thinking of Sudanese people about the complex nature of their nation and the power of positive thinking in a country struggling with economic and political transformation.
 
Starting in Seoul, Korea
 
It all began when Dafa-Alla was studying for a doctorate in data mining in Cheongju, Korea. In his spare time he performed some online translations into Arabic of the work of Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly and hundreds of others. His Korean friends were impressed by his translations and in 2009 they invited him to Seoul to talk about his work on one of their TEDx programs.  
 
“I was so moved and touched by the experience,” says Dafa-Alla. It also inspired him to create TEDx Khartoum.
 
Listen to Nabeel Biajo's interview with Anwar Dafa-Alla
Listen to Nabeel Biajo's interview with Anwar Dafa-Allai
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

His first three TEDx conferences were a success. He says the teleconferences “evolved to become one of the internationally recognized conferences out of 9,000 TEDx events around the world.”
 
“We had the first TEDx conference in Khartoum to give voice to the local people, people who otherwise have no voice through the conventional media,” says Dafa-Alla.
 
Dafa-Alla’s series of TEDx events in Khartoum allow youth and other age groups to talk about issues of importance to the Sudanese, subjects that often have created misperceptions about the war in the country, economic insecurity and government repression of public expression.
 
“We touched the identity issue that’s critical to Sudan and the Sudanese people,” he says. Speakers from all walks of life shared their ideas: artists, businessmen, school teachers and marketing executives.
 
TEDx Khartoum became a movement for social change in the hands of Dafa-Alla and a large team of volunteers who helped with production.

“It was a huge success that inspired the whole community …” he says. “We started with a hundred volunteers, and now we have over 7,000 who are volunteering for TEDx Khartoum and they’re [now] part of the community of ideas worth spreading.
 
A New Sudan is born on TEDx Khartoum
 
“We had an amazing youth speaker, a student at the university,“ Dafa-Alla said of his second production. The speaker name was Wafa Elamin. “She spoke about the importance of positive thinking to Sudan and the Sudanese in order to change our situation in Sudan. “
 
Elemin’s TEDx talk was so successful she was invited to represent the youth of Sudan at a UN meeting in Doha where she spoke about Youth Can Be The Change and met Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
 
“Conventional wisdom tells you that Sudan is a place of negativity, war, famine, poverty and all the negative stuff,” said Dafa-Alla, “but we deeply believe that our community has lots of positive stuff that we have to share with the international community.”
 
Because of Sudan’s new presence on the global platform that is TEDx,  Dafa-Alla was recently in Washington to share his recent activities at TEDx Khartoum and other social volunteer activities he has spearheaded.
 
Taking his Sudan to the United States

The TEDx conference has became a movement worldwide and Daffa-Alla was invited to give a TEDx talk at Sidney Harman Hall at The George Washington University. The audience of more than a thousand people included 50 speakers. “Businessmen, congressmen, the ambassador of South Sudan ... lots of people came and shared their great ideas,” he says.

During his presentation, Dafa-Alla shared the story of “Our Sudan,” a 12-minute film inspired by a TEDx Khartoum lecture given in May 2012 by Sudan political scientist and democracy advocate Tariq Hilal. Dafa-Alla worked as executive producer on the film.

Hilal's lecture recalls the narrative of older generations of Sudan who inherited the relative prosperity of colonial times and calls on Sudan’s next generations to dream a new dream.

Dafa-Alla said the spirit of the dream portrayed in Hilal's film was embodied by the "nafeer" movement, which brought out hundreds of Sudanese volunteers last August, to provide aid to more than 300,000 neighbors displaced by a flash flood that took the lives of 50 people. Dafa-Alla was one of the movement’s organizers.
 
“It was an amazing experience that all the community came together, and they helped where the government was paralyzed," he says. "I shared these stories and I was so happy that, you know, it was well received by the attendees.
 
He received a standing ovation at the Washington show. “It was really fascinating how lovely the TEDx mid-Atlantic community is here in Washington.”

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid