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What We Play is Life

Date: 21 July 2012

Venue: Baxter Theatre, Rondebosch

Time: 09:00 - 17:00

Price: R300

Afterparty: Chuckachurri, GreenPoint

TEDxCapeTown showcases inspirational ideas, but these are not just good ideas. These are ideas that challenge our very assumptions of the system we see ourselves a part of.

TEDxCapeTown wants to show the audience, ourselves and the world that we, as Africans, are in charge of our own destiny. We want partnerships, not aid. We are majestic and innovative, and proud to be African.

We will continue the tradition of being a fun and informative event with a focus on multi-disciplinary engagement, constructive co-operative relationships and being locally attuned and responsive.

Famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong once said “what we play is life” and this quote inspired the theme for TEDxCapeTown 2012. It llustrates the light side of life and alludes to the fact that life is a game which we have to play and certain rules apply. But how we play and how we perform is ultimately up to us.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to the mission of ‘ideas worth spreading.’ The “x” in TEDxCapeTown means it is an independently organised event, licensed by TED.

Program for TEDxCapeTown 2012 ‘What We Play Is Life’:

09:00 Session 1: Uncover the Invisible

  • Alan Knott-Craig Founder of World of Avatar, CEO of Mxit. 
    Idea worth spreading: The impact of anonymity in low-income communities in South Africa, particularly as it applies to mobile social networks.
  • Shannon Royden-Turner Urban Planner 
    Idea worth spreading: Question and highlight the role of informal settlements as assets within our cities. We need to move beyond a paradigm of eradication towards one of intervention, based on the current housing backlog, the rate of housing delivery and the way in which budgets are currently allocated.
  • Warren Nilsson Social Innovation Researcher 
    Idea worth spreading: The biggest challenge the world is facing is not how to create change but how to sustain change, and if we want to sustain change we are mostly paying attention to the wrong things, particularly inside our social purpose organizations and social movements.
  • Sue Harrison Bioprocess Engineer 
    Idea worth spreading: Sharing the potential for using integrated bioprocesses for conversion of a range of byproducts to commodity products, value added products and benign wastes using the underlying concepts of industrial ecology.
  • Winslow Schalkwyk Performer/Producer/Poet 
    Idea worth spreading: Winslow downloads lessons, blessings and love into journeys through words and sounds and the power held between these two elements. Through a poem with the refrain "What we play is life" he will explore the inter-connectiveness of life and how, in this new social networking age, "life" takes on new meaning. 

11:00 Session 2: Learn from Mistakes

  • Ulrike Rivett Geomatics and ICT Action Researcher 
    Idea worth spreading: Building the ability to trust the water we drink. It’s about building confidence in governments delivering services. It’s about fighting our tendency to be depressed by all the “stuff ups” without coming up with a better solution. It’s about changing how we think.
  • Arthur Attwell Book reinventor 
    Idea worth spreading: If we can just get over being precious and controlling about it – the publishing industry can put every book within walking distance of every home within four years. And it'll hardly cost a thing.
  • Louise van Rhyn Education Activist & Social Entrepreneur 
    Idea worth spreading: A radical innovation in the field of CSI, Education Reform and Leadership Development that creates opportunities for business leaders to make a significant difference to education whilst developing their leadership skills. 
  • Monique Schiess Incubator of creative projects, incl. AfrikaBurn 
    Idea worth spreading: Building snowballs of engagement and practicing imagining. 
  • Chris Loker Financial services consultant.
    Idea worth spreading: Financial institutions should be in the background, enabling the real economy, not at the forefront as it is now. This transformation can only take place when individual savers and investors recognize their collective power and insist on greater accountability. 
  • Peter Greenwall Errorthoughtical Engineer 
    Idea worth spreading: Multiple types of failure can be upcycled into material for innovation.

13:30 Session 3: Free Your Mind

  • Mbali Vilakazi Poet, performer, creative facilitator 
    Idea worth spreading: The process of creating poetry has certain principles that can be adapted into systems of living. Through the act of re-creating how we use language, we are able to re-create our very lives – we are able to reframe our experience of it. It offers us the opportunity to process and navigate the world differently.
  • Justin R Melville Designer, intelletual capitalist 
    Idea worth spreading: Ways for you and I to shape the future of the music business by sharing experiences and supporting the stuff we love.
  • Lauren Gillis Social Entrepreneur 
    Idea worth spreading: We can all create opportunities that change lives: sometimes by initiating the smallest things they can result in bigger outcomes.
  • Helene Smit Facilitator 
    Idea worth spreading: Much behaviour is driven by the unconscious mind, individually and collectively. Helene’s work often involves facilitating people processes about issues that lie beneath the surface and need to be carefully brought into the conversation. 
  • Surprise Guest Richard Marshall

15:30 Session 4: Challenge Everything

  • Roderick Lim Banda Independent consultant in Enterprise and Software Architecture 
    Idea worth spreading: The process of creating Software Factories in Africa. "What we Play is Life" is about a larger process at work of how we can harness our potential as a continent and as a people to overcome obstacles and negative perceptions.
  • Lara Foot-Newton Playwright
    Idea worth spreading: Theatre to promote honesty, telling stories to rewrite the plot of our lives
  • Martin Tai Lyhne Jensen Interaction Designer 
  • Idea worth spreading: Hitchhiking open technology towards local ingenuity. The true potential of technology is too great to be trapped within the imagination of technologists.
  • Tim Noakes UCT Professor of Sports Science 
    Idea worth spreading: Cut through mainstream myths, control your discomfort, get into the pain to find the real issues, in order to pursue perfection. Don't accept anything. 


All TEDx events are independently organised and free of political, commercial and religious agenda. Talks can be viewed at and some of the best talks are available for view or free download at

About TEDx

x = independently organized event In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxCapeTown where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDxCapeTown TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place in Long Beach, California, with simulcast in Palm Springs; TEDGlobal is held each year in Edinburgh, UK. TED's media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to organize local, independent TED-like events around the world; and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Follow TED on Twitter at, and on Facebook at For information about TED's upcoming conferences, visit

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