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How Africa can use its traditional knowledge to make progress | Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu

1572 ratings | 62956 views
Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu wants to see Africans unleash their suppressed creative and innovative energies by acknowledging the significance of their indigenous, authentic knowledge. In this powerful talk, she shares examples of untapped, traditional African knowledge in agriculture and policy-making, calling on Africans to make progress by validating and dignifying their reality. Check out more TED Talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. Follow TED on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TEDTalks Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/TED
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Text Comments (388)
Mary Kadi (26 days ago)
i pray your quest goes above and beyond and becomes the basis for changing the curriculum and belief in our systems that have already been working and needs to be implemented.
Kwadwo Ofori-Mensah (28 days ago)
This is why the great philosopher Bob Marley meant when he said: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery". Look at everything we do as a people from a mainstream perspective, our system of governance, education, religion, marriage, language, judicial etc none of these are our traditional models or remote variations of them. It might surprise some of you that there are Ghanaians born and raised in Ghana who has parents that forbid them from learning and speaking the local languages because speaking your own language in inferior and speaking English makes you smart etc. This is the mindset that is truly holding us back. Even Chinese food and other cultural restaurants in the US, adapt to the US culture, I mean they don't really sell traditional Chinese food in the Chinese restaurants. Similarly, McDonald's in China does not serve the same menu they serve in the US I believe. That's what we should be doing, adapt and evolve instead of blindly following what the colonial masters left us, or our problems will never get solved. This was a great TED talk video, hopefully, the next generation are paying attention.
mi mi (29 days ago)
She's giving the talk while wearing a religious symbol on her neck. is that part of African traditional knowledge?
Marietta I (1 month ago)
The great great grandchildren of Mungo Park the owners of A is for Apple. This got to me. 😢 😭
Obinna Onye (1 month ago)
This is the reason,their afraid of biafra,we will send them out of Africa,hypocrite people
dizz 10 (2 months ago)
Motivational presentation.
Rachel Mlosy (2 months ago)
Wow, this was inspiring!
Nomcebo Big bone (3 months ago)
this is amazing, motivating and eye opening
Denis G Ndung'u (3 months ago)
Wakanda forever
afroblack1000 (3 months ago)
Amazing and insightful...She's awesome
Miracle May (3 months ago)
the comments here just shows how racist people are lol where are the academics?
GLADYS MWENDWA (3 months ago)
I have never looked at our education system this way. This is eye opening. A should be for Africa or something!
GLADYS MWENDWA (3 months ago)
We should be un-apologeticly AFRICANS!
Eliel-Salomé Zahiri (4 months ago)
oh yes
victor murray (5 months ago)
Just watched this video on abibitumi.com.  i have always been suspicious of TED Talk stuff for the obvious reason that it's a Euro-American platform.   The sister made some great points and recommendations.  However, it seems the World Bank and IMF oversees Afrika's "development" and that before any indigenous techniques are embraced and used, both Eurocentric "banks" would have to determine if the projects are PROFITABLE for them in the long run.  And that, of course, is fucked-up.  It just seems unimaginable that the WB/IMF would approve of anything indigenous if it means disregarding western techniques developed by profit-hungry western corporations like Monsanto, for example.  A lion that ignores traditional and successful safety measures and seeks a hunter's advice on how to improve it's life expectancy will perish mid-sentence.  Peace.
Obiora Uzonwanne (6 months ago)
Sister please be careful they will kill you. You are exposing their tricks
PerpetualMotion&Pizza (7 months ago)
Munachim Chukwuma (7 months ago)
Best TED talk I have watched so far. Thank you Chika.
Ivonne K (7 months ago)
Wao, this is brilliant! True daughter of our land. I am inspired and so proud of what we are; A people pregnant with civilization...we must revisit our roots.
Rashad Hamid (7 months ago)
The fact that this type of vital information gets 46K views while WizKid videos gets 100 million views is part of why we're where we are
Divine Fomenya (2 months ago)
Rashad Hamid hahahaha
Shoo Shan (7 months ago)
This is decolonising the educated African mind - unlearn
name name (7 months ago)
a is for apple and thats why the iq gap exists
Adrian Bradey (2 months ago)
name name EXACTLY!!!! They try to claim Africans and blacks in general have lower IQ but it's bullshit. Their tests and education system are all designed to reflect the reality of Euros and whites specifically
BrunoInfo Afr (8 months ago)
Amazing ,I'm truly appreciative to have find this video on Youtube.This women not only that she's extremely beautiful and smart  but she's also a source of inspiration of what could be done in Africa and as an African myself it  makes me happy that Africa contains such smart people for his future.
Oumar Sesay (8 months ago)
There is so much in Africa knowldge system that could usher in trasformation in the continent if only we could let go the Mongo Park Sydrome -ie Knowldge must be credited to someone other than us.
hyacinthdibley2 (8 months ago)
It's like taking a bat to someone's head. EVERY WORD she said and how she said it hit me really heard. I am thankful for her existence, her research, and her speech. Definitely an eye opener.
Akosuagh1 (8 months ago)
3:54 - 4:21 😁😁you got me
Aida Mathias (8 months ago)
if you fund error in her speech you do not want Africa to prosper, that simple. Sister Chika, Ethiopia/Eritrea thanks you for all of your time and energy
Bior Arok (8 months ago)
This is by far the best TED talk by an African. She highlights perhaps the greatest challenges our generation faces going into this century.
Moe x (9 months ago)
Who need apple, when u have mango trees,coconut trees,corn field and almonds trees outside ur house. 😂😂😂🇱🇷
Anthony Blue (9 months ago)
tal0716 (10 months ago)
Extremely hesitant to even waste 15 minutes on this video, since it’s based on a false premise. Africa, without western intervention, has offered no progress in thousands of years. They need to learn from others, and certainly have shown they don’t have the knowledge to lead
Davith Kane (10 months ago)
Together! Truth will prosper if we want it to
Adventures with Frodo (10 months ago)
Africa has been 3rd world for ever.
Clayton Grant (10 months ago)
The best argument to look at is Madagascar’s dance with the dead traditions that have brought back the Black Death. Don’t rely on traditions if those traditions make no sense. It doesn’t matter if this concept is “too western”. As a good man once said “these values are not American, they are universal.” Don’t follow traditions if they don’t make sense.
Amazing TED talk. I agree with the fact that the curriculum content in most African countries needs to change. Sad however that she never mentioned her country Nigeria, or the city she grew up in, but we know the country and city where she got her PhD.
Rayyah Amber (10 months ago)
I have never like the term "developing countries" it's so deeming.
LJ Ubuntu (10 months ago)
Thank you sister, It was an extraordinary African speech. I firmly believe in the greatness of Africa. I love our continent.
as ter (10 months ago)
Lotte Hermans (10 months ago)
North hand housing sidewalk circumstance grace lower assistant location
TheMrmoc7 (10 months ago)
Young African warriors are listening. Thank you.
Lady de Aude (10 months ago)
Well done. Every culture should have culturally appropriate education, systems and learning. Africa should for sure have its own teaching programs and education programs, removed from what others left there and made law so that cultural pride and knowledge will grow. 👏🏾(might l say this talk is not about that past but about the present and future). Those who bothered to listen will appreciate that and what she has to say.
Lady de Aude (10 months ago)
Im not sure why some of you bother to watch TED talks if you are filled with racism and bigotry and closed minds. TED talks are for those who truly want to see solutions outside the box, world changers and those willing to be honest, truthful and forward focused to create an equally balanced world view and world. I couldnt even read the comments because l knew what to expect. Some of these TED talks are held in Africa. People who are not African may not understand what she is talking about and to be honest too many people in the West are very hyper sensitive when it comes to discussions about how Africa no longer want to use European solutions. Maybe this isnt the forum for you, there are other racist forums that talk about European solutions for the world. I congratulate TED talks for identifying that African people need African solutions that are culturally appropriate and to move away from the Euro dominant system of thought. Unfortunately too many people are still too closed minded and self absorbed to understand any of this. But again maybe this isnt the forum for them and they just need to move on to other forums that continue to promote a Euro dominant world view. Its sad because they have an opportunity to change what their ancestors did and how their ancestors thought, but instead some here still have the same mindset. That everything great, powerful and worthy is only found in European countries. But l also blame that lack of true eductaion. Most dont even know real history and that all humans came from Africa and Africa was where everything started including education. People dont understand or even have knowledge of African history and how it was divided up once by European countries. How African people welcomed these people at first with open arms but were then betrayed as they stole the wealth and value from the people. They dont know how the same countries put an endless debt on Africa so they can continue to line their pockets with its wealth. Unfortunately some who come here dont want to learn they just want to continue the same narrative of their ancestors. May Africa rise to be the mighty continent it is and may the world know that Africa will always be the richest, most culturally diverse, most welcoming life changing place on the planet. There is a reason why human life began in Africa, unfortunately some of you will never ever come to know why. (Your minds are too polluted with the wrong way of thinking).
Goddess 96 (9 months ago)
Excellent commentary! Thank you for this, our continent must rise.
abstractjem (10 months ago)
Beautifully Said!! <3
Guess Who Am I (10 months ago)
They ran out of ideas..
Antonis -Clash royale (10 months ago)
Dead channel
Crystal Guzman (10 months ago)
Powerful. Thank you Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu.
Accelerationist (10 months ago)
Hahahahaha!!! Yeah, voodoo will make progress happen. Hahahahahaha!!!!
Lugh Summerson (10 months ago)
I completely agree with what Chika says, but I find it sadly ironic that she says it while wearing a Christian cross. Christianity is the embodiment of every problem she discusses. No doubt the missionaries were well-intentioned and they certainly did great humanitarian work, but imposing European Christianity upon Africans is part of the same colonial system that imposed European agriculture and education. Middle Eastern gods and European emperor priests are as retarding to Africa as _A is for Apple._
KepleroGT (10 months ago)
Before this, you need to destroy all the corrupt systems and tyrannies that are ruling Africa at the moment.
Dalitso Zulu (10 months ago)
This is a Great approach. We as Africa can provide solutions to our problems by advancing our traditional skills in Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine, Governance etc, we already have traditional methods that have been tried and tested. its a wake up call to all of us.
Uwera Tryb (10 months ago)
i was born and raised in Kampala Uganda. i still live there. in nursery school we are taught about alphabets using European items what hit me most as a toddler was when y was for yacht. wtf it looked weird like those yachts of sailing competitions. fast forward to secondary school we are taught European and north American geography. we studied Canadian prairies and the Rhine region for 2 years and also European history like world war 1 and 2. we are landlocked country but we studied fishing in the Atlantic. 2 years of something i will never do. and then am expected to compete with someone who was actually studying about his country. we were taught the ADVANTAGES of coming EUROPEAN MISSIONARIES!!!!. not what was good about our own technology. the major reason we are so poor is we are playing catch up with western civilization. the only reason we failing to advance is we trying to copy systems that aren't ours. but people in the west sit and think anything other than theirs is wrong. they say we are lazy and greedy people but they force us to implement their laws. Belgium cut off aid because Uganda was sentencing homosexuals to prison without knowing they were sending convicted pedophiles . people get only a piece of the iceberg and make blunt comments and stupid conclusions . the worst part is people like these create fear in the west. they see someone who says their might be a better way as enemies of their civilization
John Wassing (10 months ago)
Gachaacha not gachacha...
Chief X (10 months ago)
Great lecture
Lunareon (10 months ago)
Indeed, education should always be localized. There is no one-size-fits-all system.
tilkibazil (10 months ago)
african''s was gonna travel to Mars, then white man came.
Sterling_Mustang (10 months ago)
David Zhao (10 months ago)
Some of these comments are so dumb others are just disgusting. white global hegemony will be shattered. keep decolonizing, y'all.
Izuorah Dubem (10 months ago)
I am Proud of you, Chika. Though you speak english i feel the strong igbotic flavour in your words. I am feeling poetic right now. Maybe i will right a poem. I have always felt this itch to spread the Nigerian Story. We need more Nigerian content home and abroad. We are actually the best. Funniest country every. Maybe our problem largely has to do with finding ourselves i mean culturally. Thank you for the wonderful IDEA. keep sharing.
s50201 (10 months ago)
It’s only been 100 million years. Africa be moss advance an sheet
Michael Deering (10 months ago)
"traditional" and "progress" are opposites.
Casey Harrington (10 months ago)
Tradition is keeping what good things you have, progress is finding more good things. They are not opposites
Manuel Albani (10 months ago)
Apples in my Africa?!
Casey Harrington (10 months ago)
Manuel Albani they must feel so second class
John (10 months ago)
africa couldn't make progress for ten thousand years and they would've remained in the stone age if they weren't discovered by europe
Carl Nobile (10 months ago)
Perhaps a more beneficial education sheet would be double-sided, having various regional words: A is for Africa / A is for America?
Casey Harrington (10 months ago)
But then why not have a giant sheet for every culture
NordProductions (10 months ago)
what a bunch of baloney
Dillon Reid (10 months ago)
The hateful comments on this video disgust me. You all are so certain that Africa’s failure to capitalize on all of the international assistance they’ve received is their own fault, and the West is the only answer to them, despite the millions and millions we’ve spent and countless programs we’ve implemented trying to develop their countries ourselves, which have yielded disappointingly little success. We can’t even solve our own comparatively minuscule political, economic, or educational problems here—we haven’t made any substantial progress with those for decades; yet we think our greater level of development qualifies us to tell them what to do in order to solve their problems in a climate that is totally foreign to us. Our assistance is important for them, but trying to implement systems there that can only work under ideal circumstances, not understanding the realities that might not allow them to succeed because we are outsiders, is a waste of our time and money. We need to stop fueling so much money into programs that have been shown to fail time and time again—because of corruption, ineptitude, and idealism, and start coming up with new approaches that show a better understanding of the people and the social structure there, and more thoughtful and practical problem-solving than we’ve had to offer them in the past.
Fosite NL (10 months ago)
I thought it was a pretty great speech, and very informative. I am honestly surprised to hear that education their is still so rooted in a European way, of course teaching a child the letters of the alphabet trough items/objects/animals they have little to no knowledge of what so ever is just plain silly.
claudia xander (10 months ago)
aaaargh APPLES !!! in the west we learn language utilising lions, tigers, dragons, steam trains, knights on horseback etc etc... some things we will never come across and many that don't even exist!
Darth Bacon (10 months ago)
I saw a video from africa, they made burgers out of mushed up mosquitoes.. progress
Joannot Fampionona (10 months ago)
What a fucking surprise, a black speakers and loads of dislikes ... As always, the disease are early and have a big mouth, as always that dislike bar is going to shrink. When the disease will calm down.
-AHMED- (10 months ago)
This accent is killing me 😂😂😂😂😂
Leyther Dash (10 months ago)
No one is talking about the genocide of white farmers in Africa !
metal wellington (10 months ago)
de-colonize science. here we go again.
Echo Chamber Infiltrator (10 months ago)
The title makes me not want to watch this. Make progress by doing what other successful countries do ya goofballs.
Yaboku Last (10 months ago)
A very interesting and useful talk.
moon (10 months ago)
Wow, another African TED talk where all their saying is "Knowledge"
Overonator (10 months ago)
As long as this native knowledge you speak of is not supersticious garbage play ball.
Jeffrey Kuster (10 months ago)
Calling BS on her farming experiment. She has no proof, not one photo, 11 compared to 500 yield would be visible on the stalk, where is a photo? Meanwhile the holes are useless, water would not stay in the holes for very long due to the heat and ground absorption. She is a basic liar. If it worked like that her backward farming country would be the number one exporter of food because it works so well. Must be racist constructs holding their genius farming practices back.
Semy Keba (5 months ago)
Here are some papers you can read instead of whining : Read this : http://www.unep.or.jp/ietc/publications/techpublications/techpub-8a/zay.asp Also this document about an improved version of the method : http://www.ifpri.org/publication/emergence-and-spreading-improved-traditional-soil-and-water-conservation-practice
Lugh Summerson (10 months ago)
It's also called swale irrigation if you want to read up on it. It makes the best use of natural rainfall instead of relying on pumped water. Some parts of Africa get a rainy season followed by a long dry season. It stores the water in ponds to be used for as long as possible. The whole point is that it does absorb into the soil, but it happens gradually well into the dry season.
Jeffrey Kuster (10 months ago)
Waaaaaaa, victim, victim, obviously they haven't figured out how to educate their own children in hundreds of years. So cry victim about the little things instead of making their own materials.
Ansh Wadhwa (10 months ago)
This is quite very well spoken. Every country has their unique qualities to offer to the world. If we blindly follow the standardized global curriculum, we will very soon squander the qualities and skills we received. So is the case with INDIA. We had golden knowledge once (eg. AYURVEDA), but colonial rule murdered those 1000s of year's knowledge pretty ruthlessly.
John Buffalo (10 months ago)
Ansh Wadhwa indians and hinuys are a coward race
Accelerationist (10 months ago)
What golden knowledge? Astrology?
Butimar Seabird (10 months ago)
well Africa will never be on top, never .................. your destiny is to be behind, and people are pleased to stay as they are now.
Butimar Seabird wow, you are such a fuckward!! We know that who are you trying to convince anyway.
Diary Jeff Own Depression (10 months ago)
Sarah C (10 months ago)
Here come the haters....
Jared Norman (10 months ago)
The west is the best.
jokerwanted (10 months ago)
I love how just having African or Black in the title brings out the biggots that don't even watch the video to realize it has nothing to do with racism.
Loupe (10 months ago)
I really love how whenever any video mentions the words "Africa" or "black" the comments always filled with horseshit. Love it! /sarcasm
Moriah James (10 months ago)
Some of the "intellectuals" in these comment sections are fully incapable of understanding perspectives outside of what they know. Don't even get me started on the like/dislike ratio for any video on race... it's just shameful.
xxx xxx (10 months ago)
Is that a joke?
Debate Me Irl (10 months ago)
If they havent made progress in 15,000 years they won't make progress now
Brenda Rua (10 months ago)
What a wonderful presentation! She has a perspective that offers insights on a wide range of subjects. Thanks, TED!
Nicole (10 months ago)
Great video! I think she is absolutely right!
Kabiru Sa'ad (10 months ago)
Some people are just haters for no reason, just imagine, 128 Dislikes in 2hrs, why is it because she is black?
Accelerationist (10 months ago)
No, it's not because she's black. It's because she's talking nonsense. Science is the only path to progress. Superstitious traditions are not.
MasterMazeProductions (10 months ago)
I hope I live to see the day where westerners are flocking to African universities to learn about the World from Africans
talia maloof (5 months ago)
MasterMazeProductions " To learn from Black teachers who t taught Greeks and Romans. Arabs, Asian"- Nas
John (10 months ago)
good one
PheeneZ (10 months ago)
We WuZZZZZ Progress the wheel was never invented in sub sahara Africa(look it up). It was brought and introduced by Europeans. Let that one sink in.
Wake up. (10 months ago)
TED sucks these days.
Valerie chirii (10 months ago)
Wake up. So truuu
iliveasnatalie (10 months ago)
If you spend time reading the comments you will never watch this video objectively. This video is not about SJW, jeez! Politically, I'm a conservative supporter and voter - I am currently doing my PhD in economic development and what the speaker talks about is indeed factual. The goal should be to teach developing and emerging countries to be more self-sufficient. Though it may take some time to get them there, it is possible. But often times, these countries are led to believe that they have nothing to offer so they continue to think they are at the dependency of First World Nations. This video wasn't about the supposed "evils of the West" or about "oppression" - It's time we move away from this mindset and focus future goals based on the realisation of where we are now - how far we've come as a society - identify the mistakes have been done, honestly - and find reasonable solutions moving forward. How exactly is that a bad thing? How exactly is this SJW? SMH SMH
Paa Ben (7 months ago)
By continuing to use "apples" to teach children who have practically no experience with apples! Great wisdom!!!
iliveasnatalie (10 months ago)
Hi B uppy, thank you for chiming in on that. Much appreciated :-) I don't think she got it either. Totally not what I meant or said, but I think her heart was in the good place. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I tend to be a very positive person so, I'll allow myself this moment to simply see her comment as something she really needed to get off her chest so she monopolized on the opportunity to give a rather lengthy comment :-) Have a wonderful day! :-)
B uppy (10 months ago)
Lady de Narbonna "Brutality" doesn't have to be a part of culture that is passed on. That is ridiculousness. You're going at a tangent. You're like the second coming of Chris D and Hubolds 1. Not too sure you aren't...
B uppy (10 months ago)
Lady de Narbonna I don't think your getting what Natalie's point of view is...
Evo99 (10 months ago)
To me it's more about the journey and the progress along the way, and less about the destination. Experience are valueable and along the way comes wisdoms. People who tell you what to do are sometime already there without knowing how they got there, but teachers including foreign ones who understand the student's needs may understand that A for Apple may not be good enough to set them off on a long journey, something Finland's teacher may agree with. Imo, it starts off with a belief and the taking of the first step foward to begin a journey. The biger the dreams, the more accurate you have to be, and the more correct the moves you have to make. Sometime it only take one broken car part for the car to stop running. Many goals require patient and sometime you have to have enough patient to pass on your dreams for others to fulfill. Once halfway, things may progress much faster, but the begining is always the hardest part. As for resources and such. Don't fall for the feel good trap that can happen sometime. Money is money, but one step forward brings people closer to the next, which is worth more money.
Fat Sack (10 months ago)
"A people long subjected to the intellectual guidance of others." Lol. Africa will never not be a shithole.
after1001 (10 months ago)
I want my 14 minutes back
after1001 (10 months ago)
Why does TED allow low IQ people to speak now?
Rachel Mlosy (2 months ago)
after1001 Dude u so dump that you don't even realize that you need to be incredibly smarter than average oak like your self to work at the world bank and pursue a PHD.
T L (10 months ago)
after1001 you don't know her IQ.
CHAS1422 (10 months ago)
Crop yield is not the only measure of agricultural performance. Avoiding flood and wind erosion are necessary to preserve depth of top soil. During the dustbowl years they learned that preserving root structures and contour farming were simple ways of preventing top soil erosion. The method she proposes may yield more crops in a season, but what are the long term consequences to the top soil to dig those deep holes. I would be curious. Maybe it is a technique worth a case study on a small plot. How are the holes dug, with expensive labor? are the additional yields worth the labor to dig the holes? We cannot adopt a drastic new method of industrial farming unless we know for certain. Perhaps it worked well when the population of South Africa was in the thousands. It is now in the tens of millions.
Akosuagh1 (8 months ago)
I guess it was just an example
John Wassing (10 months ago)
Permaculture is the best way to grow soil.
Vid Trim (10 months ago)
Lmao every Ted talk that isn't about white people or by white people is mass-disliked. Pathetic.
Cat Vega (10 months ago)
What is up with the comment section... Truly scary. I thought this was a great insight and hoped to find the same mindset among people having watched her talk...
satellite964 (10 months ago)
*rolls eyes* Well if your ancestors had made writing possible then maybe they could have discovered the river as well.
arniebarb123 (10 months ago)
Why are immigrant Africans doing so much better then blacks here in the US?
TenaciousC (10 months ago)
arniebarb123 , the same reason they are doing better than most white americans..
David Boucard (10 months ago)
Because a self-selected group filtered through a rigorous legal immigration process is a biased representation of the general population. Immigrants are required to have the necessary education and economic capital to migrate. Nigerian-Americans may do well, but the average Nigerian in Nigeria (country with 60% poverty rate) does poorly compare to the average black person in America. Same as asking: Why do Ivy League students have high grad rates and high incomes? Because they were pre-selected to be high achievers based on their SAT scores and high school accomplishments. I could just as easily point to the top 10% of black Americans (the Oprahs, Obamas, upper middle class blacks, etc) and come to the conclusion that US blacks are doing so well.
Fat Sack (10 months ago)
They don't have a chip on their shoulder.

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