The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in Harlem, New York was a full house on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. The setting was great, and the conversation was even better. The event brought together intellectuals from some of the world’s most prominent institutions to discuss everything from innovation to the effects of writing from a global perspective.
Present among these intellectuals were internationally acclaimed writers: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Novelist / Nigeria), Romain Bertrand (Historian / France), Siddhartha Deb (Writer / India), Farah Griffin (Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies / United States) all uniquely, concisely, and deeply engaged in discussing “How can we give voice to silent and “invisible people” in a globalized world?
One theme rang loud and clear: Ideas matter. Stories matter. Africa has produced some of the world’s most brilliant writers to-date. Nadine Gordimer, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Julius Kambarage, Nyerere, George Ayittey and Chinua Achebe are some of the most renowned innovators and story tellers in the continent’s history; yet one might argue that it was not their genius that was responsible for their iconic status, but rather it was their unquenchable hunger for creating, developing, and sharing ideas and stories.
Society needs ideas and story-tellers. Both originate innovation and allow brainstorming techniques to solve problems and generate concrete and practical solutions. Stories move things forward through the power of ideas and not through their intellect, genius or class. While it is the story-tellers’ ability to go around the world, discover the ideas and share stories. Stories shape the way we think and make headways. They creates a legacy in the world of literacy and in the world of information, subsequently influencing the behavior of the readers and giving voice to those who are voiceless.