TedX Johannesburg

TEDx Johannesburg Women 2019

TEDx Johannesburg Women curators Dudu Mkhwanazi and Ithateng Mokgoro welcomed guests against a grey and rainy Jo’burg sky for a day of talks by women at the 2nd annual TEDx Women event. Even if the weather was cold, our hearts were quickly warmed by the promise of stirring conversations by some inspirational women.

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This event was one of 16 other TEDx Women’s events happening on the same day across the globe, and the thought of so many women gathered to share insight and stories, was by itself – encouraging. The 2019 theme Bold + Brilliant was, instead of a badge of honour to past achievements, a call to action to remind the audience that change can be made through incremental and consistent effort. The event coincides with 16 Days of Activism in South Africa and we were reminded that this call to action is about more than a call to find one’s own boldness and brilliance, but to stand together and support each other even when life seems too lacklustre and brilliance seems an impossible reality.


This call to action to take steps towards change was echoed throughout the day as one of the central themes. Other primary themes revolved around sustainability, issues of gender, and community – the latter highlighted in the first speaker, Lerato Mogoatlhe’s talk, as she relayed tales of travelling through the continent. Lerato’s remarkable renditions reminded the audience that brave individuals and communities of women have existed on this continent for aeons and that we can all be inspired by stories of courage, kindness, and living in one’s full power even when that seems arduous. 


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Some other highlights from the event:


Talk radio host Azania Mosaka shared a deeply personal story about overcoming the effects of cyberbullying and how the experience taught her lessons in parenting. She shared about how her daughter got cyberbullied and how, as a parent, she supported her daughter through the experience and learned some valuable lessons in the process. “Our children are not 2.0 copies of us, and as parents, we need to allow them to go through their own journeys while loving and supporting them, but not dictating how they process and choose to lead their lives” says Azania. She also spoke about learning how our need to control situations diminishes a life lived freely and how having too many expectations hinder our growth. Lastly, she reminded the audience of the old adage – what we resist, persists. “Don’t fight too hard, just because you resist something, doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” wise words Azania.

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Professor Pumla Gqola shared memories of how she found her footing in her own identity as a feminist and how she found delight in being inspired by strong women on the continent. The current wave of making feminism ‘cool’, as seen on slogan T-shirts and celebrity social media feeds, says Prof Gqola, represents only a part of the full picture. Feminism and women taking up their power is still a severe and often detrimental and dangerous action in a 21st-century world. She reminded us not to take the act of women being brave and powerful lightly as many women on the African continent are still being punished and ostracized for their feminist beliefs. 


The notion of real-life struggles reverberated in farmer and entrepreneur Leeko Makoene’s talk. Her opening words were: ‘’I farm in dresses. For myself but for all the great women who farmed before me. I am here to stay.’’ The way she owns her own power as a woman within the agricultural industry is palpable, and her bravery and courage to change the industry are not only inspiring but indeed pioneering. Leeko gave insight on the struggles and difficulties of South African farmers and has, as a result, taken up this call to action to start Made With Rural – a social enterprise that aims to innovate and provide solutions to problems farmers face. 


This call to action and doing something not only for the self but for communities around you was evident in what all the female speakers shared. This was perfectly summarized in the words of Dr Theo Mothoa-Frendo, “If not me, then who?”

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TEDx provides platforms for the spreading of ideas, and the stories and concepts that were shared at TEDx Johannesburg Women 2019 were indeed worth spreading.


Image Credits: TEDxJohannesburg

Photographer: Moon Mokgoro



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Bold + Brilliant Women Take Centre Stage
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