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4 Days of Bold Ideas: Here's What Went Down at TEDGlobal 2017 in Tanzania

We were in the mix at the TEDGlobal Conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Here's our recap on the 4-day gathering of brilliant minds.

A tense on-stage debate about the role of faith on the African continent, a former Kenyan death-row inmate on his path to freedom and a mosquito researcher who would catch the malarial pests using his own ankles as bait—despite the slick feel of TED's online videos, the real thing is far less predictable and far more exciting.

OkayAfrica was at this year's TEDGlobal Conference in Arusha, Tanzania alongside some fascinating artists, makers and doers most of whom are from the African continent and its diaspora. On the program were many of our favorite artists like Blinky Bill, Alsarah & the Nubatones and Kenyan superstars Sauti Sol.

Science fiction author du jour, Nnedi Okorafor read from her book Lagoon, and discussed her vision for speculative fiction writing from an African perspective. Niti Bhan discussed her research on how East African market traders run complicated and successful retail businesses that don't deserve the “informal" label.

One of the highlights from Wednesday morning—a last minute addition to the lineup—was Peter Ouko from the African Prisons Project. He described his path from being a death row inmate to becoming a law school graduate and prison reform advocate. Probably the most mind-blowing moment—quite literally—was a talk from Nigerian tech entrepreneur Oshiorenoya Agabi about his company that is using living neurons to help computers interpret the world.

One of the more fraught moments was an interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame—about as polarizing a figure as it gets, and a major draw for many conference participants. Many told us that they left frustrated by a lack of hard questions from Zimbabwean journalist, Vimbayi Kajese, who interviewed the President via video conference.

Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women and a much less controversial figure than Kagame, described her entrance into politics as stemming from her own TED talk in 2014, where she appeared in her previous role as a biologist talking about rare plant species.

Sauti Sol were Kagame's opposite—the Kenyan band united the 700-person crowd with their rich harmonies and their talk about the rise of African pop music. Fifteen years ago, said singer Bien-Aimé Baraza, they were a teenage vocal group imitating Boyz II Men with Mariah Carey and 50 Cent posters on their wall—today's African teens have posters of Tiwa Savage and, well, Sauti Sol.

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Kenyan Student Carilton Maina Fatally Shot by the Police

Activists and citizens are demanding justice for Maina

Kenyans have been calling for justice for Carilton Maina, a young student who was fatally shot by the police.

On December 21, Maina was returning home from watching football in Line Saba, Kibera when he was killed by the police. Maina was a 23-yr old student at Leeds university who was back in Kenya visiting his family for Christmas. He was also known for giving a TEDx talk in 2016 about poverty and violence. In the talk, he critiqued class dynamics, law enforcement, and criminal justice systems in Kenya and globally. He had also spoken about the potential power for education to take people out of poverty.

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Watch Walé Oyéjidé of Ikiré Jones' TED Talk On Creating Fashion That Changes Narratives

"It has become my purpose to rewrite the cultural narratives so that people of color can be seen in a new and nuanced light," says the designer.

Wale Oyejide is no stranger to using fashion as a catalyst for social change, it's the very essence of his world-class fashion brand Ikiré Jones.

He uses his design to tell uniquely African stories, ones that empower us and allow us creative control over our own narratives. In a memorable TED Talk given at last year's TED Global, and published today, the designer explains why he uses fashion as a means of storytelling.

I tell these stories as a concerted effort to correct the historical record, because, no matter where any of us is from, each of us has been touched by the complicated histories that brought our families to a foreign land. These histories shape the way we view the world, and they mold the biases we carry around with us.

For Oyejide, it's about more than just classic, well-tailored clothing, it's about reclamation, healing and ultimately, black pride.

And so, yeah, ostensibly I stand before you as a mere maker of clothing. But my work has always been about more than fashion. It has become my purpose to rewrite the cultural narratives so that people of color can be seen in a new and nuanced light, and so that we, the proud children of sub-Saharan Africa,can traverse the globe while carrying ourselves with pride.

Watch the full talk below and revisit our interview with the designer about getting his designs in Black Panther, as well as our chat ahead of his talk at last year's TED Global event in Tanzania.

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Courtesy of Universal Music Group.

In Conversation with Daniel Kaluuya and Melina Matsoukas: 'This isn't a Black Bonnie and Clyde film—our stories are singular, they're ours.'

'Queen and Slim' lands in South Africa.

Melina Matsoukas and Daniel Kaluuya are everything their surroundings at the opulent Saxon Hotel are not—down-to-earth and even comedic at times. Despite the harsh lights and cameras constantly in their faces, they joke around and make the space inviting. They're also eager to know and pronounce the names of everyone they meet correctly. "It's Rufaro with an 'R'? Is that how you say it?" Kaluuya asks me as he shakes my hand.

Matsoukas, a two-time Grammy award winning director and Kaluuya, an A-list actor who's starred in massive titles including Black Panther and Get Out, have every reason to be boastful about their achievements and yet instead, they're relatable.

The duo is in South Africa to promote their recent film Queen Slim which is hitting theaters today and follows the eventful lives of a Black couple on the run after killing a police officer. It's a film steeped in complexity and layered themes to do with racism, police brutality and of course Black love.

We caught up with both of them to talk about just what it took from each of them to bring the powerful story to the big screen.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Installation view of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.

The Met's New Exhibition Celebrates the Rich Artistic History of the Sahel Region

'Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara' is an enxtensive look into the artistic past of the West African region.

West Africa's Sahel region has a long and rich history of artistic expression. In fact, pieces from the area, which spans present-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, date all the way back to the first millennium. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara, a new exhibition showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, dives into this history to share an expansive introduction to those who might be unfamiliar with the Sahel's artistic traditions.

"The Western Sahel has always been a part of the history of African art that has been especially rich, and one of the things that I wanted to do with this exhibition, that hasn't done before, is show one of the works of visual art...and present them within the framework of the great states that historians have written about that developed in this region," curator Alisa LaGamma tells Okayafrica. She worked with an extensive team of researchers and curators from across the globe, including Yaëlle Biro, to bring the collection of over 200 pieces to one of New York City's most prestigious art institutions.

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