Talking Heads is a multi–layered, knowledge sharing platform conceived to identify, showcase, network and expose Africa’s thought leaders. It profiles the ideas, visions and manifestations of the extraordinary people living on this Continent.
ARE WE BURNING?
Looking into the continent from the outside or from within it, the mainstream messages that define Africa rarely articulate the subtlety and nuance of its people or their existence. How can almost 1 billion people in 54 countries speaking over 2000 languages all be living in chaos all the time? Read More
The clichés and commonly held notions of Africa and Africans are that they are HIV positive, poor, corrupt and criminally inclined. These notions get punctuated and perpetuated by our insatiable appetite for what is burning or destroyed versus what is thriving. These views, messages and perspectives crowd out a balanced understanding of the diversity of everyday existence on this continent. Part of breaking with these perceptions of failure comes from how and who has access to the alternative realities that exist all around us. Knowledge, ideas and expertise are all too often hard to come by or uninteresting for many people living in Africa across the socio-economic continuum.
The inaccessibility of this knowledge, alternative ideas and the people who create it is not however simply a problem affecting Africa’s identity or image. It has far reaching consequences to the daily choices people make, how access is controlled or denied, when and where opportunities are presented and realised, how social justice is both vetted and meted out, and more sweepingly who receives what rights and privileges. The distorted perceptions of Africa’s reality and who and what we understand creates a myriad of limitations that stifle growth, opportunity and most critically innovation.
Educating the African continent or reshaping perspectives of whom and what Africa is and is capable of is no small undertaking nor our ambition. We have designed an approach however to identify, showcase, network and expose Africa’s “Thought Leaders” as a way of both developing and depicting ideas as well as opening a window into an alternative reality outside the commonly held notions of continental collapse. This is a reality that showcases what is extraordinary about the people in Africa, their visions and current manifestations that are solving problems and making a meaningful and affirmative contribution to their communities, cities, countries, continent and the world. Our approach, although modest in its ambitions, does however provide a model that can be easily replicated anywhere in Africa and with scale it can offer an alternative narrative of who and what we know about this place. This model is –Talking Heads.
Talking Heads consists of four core components all intending to service different yet interwoven purposes. These include: developing a platform for intimate conversation and exchange with and between experts; creating a network of African thought leaders; producing audio and video-casts that define these leaders and their unique contributions; and finally, developing the tools to make this model/system work in cities all over the African continent.
Talking Heads Live - The Talking Heads live events use the art of conversation as a potent way to exchange and build knowledge about the world. Read More
Conversation allows us to share, debate and adapt our thoughts in personal, interactive, multi-dimensional and compelling ways; we remix ideas through spontaneous, unrehearsed collaboration. The advantages of this approach are that it encourages the cross-pollination of ideas and provides a fertile ground for transforming how we perceive and locate our society and ourselves. This approach: promotes the creation of alternative streams of thought; debunks preconceived notions of who and what experts are; promotes the translation of discipline specific codified language; provides inspiration to collaborate or new initiatives; can be extremely effective when applied to solving problems; breaks down cultural and interdisciplinary prejudice; and can be a key ingredient in the development of a healthy knowledge economy.
Talking Heads Media -There is currently no consistent programming on broadly accessible media channels that exists in Africa that highlights the ideas of Africa’s thought leader’s in interesting and accessible ways. Talking Heads Live has the benefit of progressing and disseminating ideas though conversation, but its format and scale prevent it from reaching a broader audience. To achieve broader access mini-documentaries and audio-casts are created with selected participants from the Talking Heads live events.
Talking Heads Connect - One of the benefits of hosting the Talking Heads live events is that the experts or thought leaders also get to be an audience member. Through the common experience of serving as an expert and engaging with other experts a network of extraordinary people is realised. Part of the Talking Heads ambition is to create a living online archive of those who have participated that includes a small bio, and video/audio cast about their particular expertise. This archive can then become a powerful tool for encouraging and facilitating exchange and collaboration across disciplines to address some of the more intractable issues that African leaders are confronted with.
TH Seed – To escalate the impact that Talking Heads can have on knowledge exchange, collaboration and profiling the 95% of Africa, which never gets exposed, we will establish a social entrepreneur franchise approach to replicating the project.
Our intention is to migrate Talking Heads live, media and connection to four new cities in Africa each year. Each iteration of the Talking Heads activities in the host city will be done in collaboration with local partners. After the initial live event the partners will be given the licence to host their own future Talking Heads events. The partners will then feed their local thought leaders into the central online network platform and make their own mini-documentaries for distribution locally and as part of the broader offering made by the Africa Centre. Replication of the Talking Heads model in other African cities provides a simple and cost effective model for spreading the possibilities of platforming Africa’s great wealth of talent and ideas.
To find out more, or become a Talking Head contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.