From left: Father Neil Frank, Heidi Matisson, Hsin “Cynthia” Chiang, Pierre Buckley and Joan Akob.

One of the most long awaited events at UKZN finally took place at the Ronald MacMillan Theatre with the audience showing up in its numbers to pack the venue in anticipation of the night ahead. Making its first debut in Pietermaritzburg, the TEDx (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talk with a focus on bio-global immigration and astronomy was sure to engulf, inspire, educate and unleash fresh ideas.

There were five guest speakers all of whom had the opportunity to take the audience on a mind-unlocking journey. The first speaker, Ms Joan Akob, looked at the migration of human beings and what it means for both rural and urban areas. Her speech touched a bit on the experience of being an only immigrant among fellow classmates. ‘I believe that our perception and misconception we have about each other is what actually hinders social cohesion,’she said. Akob went on to suggest that we should ‘…replace the spirit of division with spirit of Ubuntu.

The importance of the spirit of Ubuntu in our societies is vital with regards to how it could break barriers and create peace amongst people. The spirit of Ubuntu: is a simple philosophy that does not cost anyone a single dime. But it does require a massive shift in how we think about ourselves, how we see each other, and how we view every other living thing on the planet.

Topics such as ‘Elements for the Construction of Meaning’ by the second speaker, Father Neil Frank, addressing language and symbols construction concerning complex ideas relating to cosmology and our space in the cosmos. The words we use every day create a meaning of life forming symbols that become our reality which makes our present.

The TEDx talks were very well received by both students and academics. Ice breakers in paper format were different and spread around the theatre. It helped the audience settle in and engage with the speakers, which is the crux of what TEDx talks tries to promote. The audience remained enthralled till the end.

The event was made possible by a group of five phenomenal individuals. Encouraging words from the organiser, Mr Tinashe Dirwai were, ‘On a great mountain you don’t leave your friends and go to the top alone,’ which is the same spirit that made this TEDx event a success. Given the enthusiasm and interest in the talks definitely more of these lectures will be arranged in the future.

Words by: Swasti Maney and Nokuthula Mavimbela