BY Levi Letsoko 3 MINUTE READ

Hosted in the capital city, the 2018 TEDxPretoria event was filled with inspiration, delivered by  an intriguing lineup of speakers. The session turned out to be a moment of reflection, redemption, repurposing and repositioning for the speakers and attendees.

The theme for the day was tech fused with spoken word artistry that highlighted social challenges (societal and gender-based) as well as the solutions that tech can bring to these challenges.

The topics revolved around the actual influence that progression in technology has on our day-to-day lives – from how it affects our interpersonal interaction, to how it moulds our ideals, including how we perceive what is to come and our perceptions around what has already occurred.

More importantly, the attention grabbing theme, was the effect that tech innovation has on businesses and how this progress will impact on commercial interests. It is, afterall, the new dawn of doing of business.

Tech, Society, Business

Echoing many intellectuals before him, Obakeng Leseyane expressed in his address how the chains of poverty that held him down were unlocked by his pursuit of education. He delivered a very passionate talk about the under-estimated benefits of a learned society.

Bronwyn Williams explored the possibilities presented by technology in advancing the quality of life through improvements and innovations in health tech. These possibilities range from how human organs can be repurposed, to how longevity can be achieved for humans by humans with the help of tech.

Tiyani Majoko, who labels herself as an attorney by profession and an entrepreneur by purpose, gave a sterling talk on blockchain and how it has revolutionised the spaces it has been instrumental in. The ‘B-word’ is undoubtedly the elephant in the room at major tech events – and this session was no different.

She explored the different fields where blockchain has proven to be a success, from crypto-currencies to identity verification, as well as health care records storage and supply chain processes.

Janet Zilla highlighted the importance of self-forgiveness and giving grace to oneself through her open-hearted articulation titled ‘Giving my Grace and Changing the Trajectory of my Life’.

Kevin Liebenberg touched on greatness – the one ideal that everyone is fascinated with, but not understood by many. He believes that greatness is an attribute that is possessed by everyone, but not everyone knows how to harness it sufficiently in order to let it sprout in their own lives. His engaging talk served as a guide to getting this one skill right.

Titled ‘Time to Repurpose’, the talk delivered by Edgar Kasenene focused on the pros and cons posed by tech innovation for businesses; mainly how these innovations can improve services received by the end user (consumer) at the expense of the competitors who remained stagnant.

As an example, he used the current commotion in the paid-television space. Where an international company (Netflix) with no offices, no sales and no formal base was able to lure users away from the only paid-television company in the country successfully.

To tackle the issues surrounding climate change and its impact on the environment, Mariné Pienaar identified the current weather patterns across the world as a serious sign that there are severe imbalances in the climate. Heat waves and extreme rainfall are patterns that should trigger us into action.

John Sanei captured the audience when he emphasised that the inability of the human species to be content is the root cause of some of the biggest problems facing the world at the moment. He labelled this inability to embrace satisfaction as the ‘horny teenage boy syndrome’.

He strategically pointed out how this syndrome, which is disguised as a hunger for more (despite having enough), is the driving force behind social ills like Apartheid, colonialism and segregation. These phenomena were all driven by the desire for more.

Tackling the challenges faced by women in society and how their response is often viewed, Rebone Masemola made a convincing plea through her presentation. She voiced the importance of moving away from the narrative of labeling gender resistance as a movement of angry black women and giving their protest the merit it deserves.

After being publicly shamed for being transparent about her stance on certain societal and racial issues, Verashni Pillay became a victim of cyberbullying leading her to give up an editor’s role at an online publication – a challenge she accepted and overcame after numerous online assaults.

As an environmental anthropologist, Katie Nortje has mastered finding connections between various elements of life and why those connections exist. She explored all components that make up what humans recognise as their identity and how this affects how they interact and perceive the world they live in.

One of the speakers that graced the event is Xolani Ngobozana whose topic was centred on a life beyond drug abuse. He passionately delivered an address that challenged the attendees to be proactively involved in fighting the effects of drug use in society by creating softer landing spaces for rehabilitated individuals.

To close off the talks, Barry Vorster delivered an enlightening analysis of how the future world of work has already started taking shape and how it is mashing up different generations into the same work spaces. He also highlighted the different ways generations respond to workplace challenges.