It is exciting to be part of the 2nd Bonn Tedx Event! When I was invited to address you tonight, the words of an inspiring woman came to my mind. Her name is Chimamanda Adichie. She is a best-selling Nigerian writer, a feminist – and a gifted speaker on Ted Events. I had the pleasure of listening to her when she spoke about “The danger of a single story”.
She talked about her experience with images that are created by stories. If you read or hear one story, you only have already conjured up one image, adopting one perspective. Like little Chimamanda in her childhood days, who had always been told their houseboy was poor – and who was overwhelmed during a visit of his family, deeply admiring their art and handicraft. She would not have expected anything but a poor family. Because she only had ONE story. Each additional story offers a new choice and adds to the image we have conjured in our minds. Each additional story takes you one step closer to reality.
It is a bit like the story of the blind men sent out by their king to report on the elephant:
One reported a long arm or tentacle, the others some solid pillars, a huge fan, a cord or a huge mass. None of them was able to imagine the elephant as a whole – while the king put together the bits and pieces and in the end could imagine the animal.
It is a healthy approach to have many stories on one same thing. Many views, perspectives and opinions, all bringing in some individual background.
And this is the philosophy of TED – giving the floor to this multitude of stories and images! Telling stories that would remain unheard!
Upon the initiative of Dr. Martin Frick, Director of the Climate, Energy and Tenure Division at FAO, we are happy and proud to be part of the worldwide Ted movement for the second time now – after the first event in the Federal Foreign Office on October 1, 2014. Thank you, Dr. Frick, for bringing TED to Bonn!
Tonight, I would also like to thank Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers, for facilitating the TEDx entry on the UN Campus.
Our city is the place where UN Bonn is shaping a sustainable future. This year we are celebrating 20 Years of UN Bonn and we are very proud of this anniversary!
For those of you who have no plans for Sunday, you are kindly invited to come to our Open Day at Villa Hammerschmidt from 11 onwards to celebrate with us!
Actually, the United Nations stand for the opposite of a single story – they stand for multilateralism and a multitude of opinions. Therefore I consider it more than appropriate to include a platform for opinions and stories like TED in the UN anniversary agenda.
Let us now listen to some stories and see the pictures they conjure in our minds. And let us always be open to new stories adding to them. In TEDx events and in our daily lives.
And, above all: let us mistrust any single story!
Before we now welcome the amazing storytellers of tonight, I would like to invite all of you to stay around for a while after the talks. Join us for the reception hosted by the City of Bonn. Seize the opportunity to talk about the stories we have just heard, to make new contacts – and to add new bits and pieces to the images in your head.