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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More