African countries waste up to half the food export and agriculture is an essential part of Kenyan economy and development. So when TedXNairobi chose to focus on these matters among others under the frame “Wasted World” it was a guarantee for a rewarding day. Meanwhile in Kenya has the great pleasure of having our own exclusive coverage of the event thanks to Reinhard Mue, a former biochemist now working as a professional photographer and cinematographer.
Reinhard uses photography as a creative tool to bridge worlds and to meet new people and has a laser-sharp mind and his perspective is refreshing. MiKe connected with Reinhard Mue through Instagram. He is one of the group of Kenyan creatives that we like to keep an eye on because you just know you will always see something new and be inspired. Reinhard, or @rey_matata as he is known on Instagram, stands out with his unusual aesthetic style and clean style and tonality. Knowing Reinhard has many interesting observations and the ability to convey the essence of something in a stringent straight-forward enlightening way we asked him to take us with him to TedXNairobi so we could experience it through his mind and eyes. Hope you enjoy this interview and some highlights from an inspiring and important day!
When and where was TedXNairobi held?
RM: It was the fifth TedXNairobi Event. (The first started in July 2009.) It was held on the 6th December, 2014 at the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) in Karen, Nairobi.
This year’s theme was a wasted world. Influential and inspiring ideas to reduce, revise and reclaim our wasted world for a better future.
What attracted you to the TEDX event?
RM: I was a first time attendee to the 5th TedX Nairobi event. I was driven by exciting curiosity, fueled by passion for change through ideas, innovations and creativity.
How would you describe the attending crowd?
RM: It was unbelievable. All were tack sharp, beautiful and as hungry for knowledge as I was. Show up was about 300. Numerous had attended the previous TEDX events.
General age group could have been between 20 – 30 years. Most were youthful, young and entrepreneurs. There were older folks too, curious with ongoing innovations and ideas by the young.
Tell us more about the theme?
RM: The event reflected on our ever-questioning selves. It provoked complex conversations about the challenge of reducing waste, which is now linked to the challenge of increasing prosperity in our developing country.
Basically, the session themes were:
REDUCE: How do we manage our natural resources and innovate at the end of the value chain to reduce waste and spoilage?
REVISE: How do we disrupt our patterns of consumption and challenge our assumptions do that we can make better choices for ourselves and the environment?
RECLAIM: How do we reclaim lost assets in our world, remember ancient wisdom and recycle our waste?
These conversations matter because if we do not change our wasteful ways, our hopeful futures could so easily be lost.
Most speeches revolved around agriculture, considering it’s one of the main income source for most Kenyans that live in the rural parts of the country, and informing the farmers on their rights and effective production and preservation of their produce.
What were the main highlights in the program from your perspective?
RM: Oh well! I was awed. Being a newbie, everything was a highlight for me. The organization and execution of the event was brilliant. The selection of speakers and their respective speeches are worth another hearing.
I was slightly surprised by the amount of food waste that happens in Europe. African countries waste up to half the food export just because they haven’t met a physical standard set by the European market. For example, if a carrot is too long, too thick, too curved or otherwise not appealing, it is considered as waste. A lot of agricultural produce goes to waste. Tristram Stuart , from feeding the 5000 (www.feeding5k.org ) had an insightful talk in the matter. Actually our lunch banquet for the day was organized by the feedback team. A very Delicious and mouthwatering menu from the supposed ‘waste’.
What three main insights did you take with you from the event?
RM: Each speaker had a tagline based on their talk. Every speech was based on the theme of a wasted world. I recommend you to have a look at the video speeches from the TEDX Nairobi website. Every attendant had their share of insight from the event. In particular, the following speakers were most insightful to me:
• Priscilla Were, an education System reformer with a powerful Speech on wasted youth.
• Patrick Njiru with a humorous and engaging talk on wasted chances.
• Godfrey Mwampembwa aka Gado with his sarcastic, witty and rib cracking illustrations on wasted power.
How would you say that the insights from this event would best be followed up and turned into actions?
RM: It isn’t a coincidence that more than half of the speeches had a touch on Kenya’s agricultural system. It is a matter that should be given more attention and consideration. There is a lot of potential from the agricultural economy that would better occupy the unemployed Kenyan youth. With the proper information, resources, training and engagement … there is a lot of untapped resources that would benefit many African developing countries.
What would you say were the success-factors of the event and consequently – what could be improved or developed for the next time?
RM: With every annual TEDX event, it grows to be bigger, better and more professional in their planning and execution. It has become a powerful platform to engage Nairobi and the world in general to matters that would in the long run benefit all human kind.
I think TedX Nairobi should consider targeting a wider audience. In particular the Kenyan youth. Many had and still have no clue of this mind opening awareness avenue. More advertising through social media prior to the event, for more viewership through the live webcast of the event. Highlights of the recorded footage could perhaps be aired in the local broadcast media.
Which things discussed during the day do you think would be the most valuable for non-Kenyans to know and why?
RM: All matters discussed at the TEDX event affects one and all in one way or another. In brief, the event had a talk on WASTED Crops, Talent, World, Water, Power, Time, Land, Lives, Choices, Chances, Food, Funds and Youth. There is content for everyone. I get to watch other Ted X events from different nations, they are relevant and applicable worldwide.
It’s important to get informed and TEDX has unlimited ideas for our future.
This quote was the catch quote for me during the event. Its truth in the quote had me open minded ever since. More than often, we limit ourselves to what we want to believe or caged by fear of uncertainty. I spotted it in the event’s program. It’s a quote by Ellbert Hubbard that best describes the ‘TED Moments’ when a powerful rush of insight allows your mind to meet an old challenge with a new solution.
“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”
Thank you so much Reinhard Mue for taking the time to be MiKe’s special correspondent during this important event and for sharing your thoughts with us! Asante sana.