x = independently organized TED event

Theme: What We Play Is Life

This event occurred on
July 21, 2012
9:00am - 5:00pm SAST
(UTC +2hrs)
Cape Town, WC
South Africa

TEDxCapeTown serves as a tool/platform to showcase how we believe businesses/initiatives should be run in the future, with a focus on multi-disciplinary engagement, constructive co-operative relationships and being locally attuned and responsive. The event aims to be fun+, yet professional. 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 magestic and innovative, and proud to be African.

The Theme, What We Play is Life, is a Louis Armstrong quote and shows the playfulness of life. It also alludes to the fact that life is the game, we have to play it, certain rules apply and how we play, how we perform is up to us. This quote by Dr Robert Anthony explains more: "It just helps to understand that each individual plays a game that he or she understands, that she or he sets up, and that no one game is necessarily better than another. If the games were not bringing us some sort of payoff, we'd stop playing."

The theme that emerged on the day was about Challenging Assumptions.

The Baxter Theatre
Main Road
Cape Town, WC, 7701
South Africa
See more ­T­E­Dx­Cape­Town events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alan Knott-Craig

Alan is founder of World of Avatar and CEO of Mxit, Africa’s largest social network. Between 2003 and 2006 co-founded five companies in the mobile services sector. In 2006 appointed managing director of iBurst, a broadband network operator in South Africa. In April 2008 published Don’t Panic, a best selling book aimed at persuading emigrant South Africans to return home. In June 2008 founded The Trust, an NGO focused on assisting charities access skills and capital. In 2009 named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In June 2012 published Mobinomics, the story of Mxit and mobile in Africa. Alan is a qualified Chartered Accountant (SA).

Justin R Mellville

I am Justin R. Melville, delivered by a doctor in a tuxedo, self-taught designer, intellectual capitalist and creator of Airborne. I TEDx because the most important thing about ideas is sharing them and TED is the perfect platform to do that, in a deeply personal and authentic fashion. My idea worth spreading is ways for you and I to shape the future of the music business by sharing experiences and supporting the stuff we love.

Arthur Attwell

I am Arthur Attwell, former book publisher, founder of Paperight and a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow. For six years I've been working on ways to use technology to solve one problem: books are expensive and out of reach for most people, and that's wrong. At Paperight, we're looking to solve that problem. I TEDx because when smart, thoughtful people share ideas well, the world gets an upgrade. And we need more upgrades. My idea worth spreading to present at TEDxCapeTown 2012 is that – 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.

Lara Foot-Newton

Lara relocated to Cape Town from Johannesburg with her family in 2005 to take up the position of Resident Director and Dramaturg at the Baxter - a post which she held until 2007. In January 2010 she was appointed CEO and Director of the Baxter Theatre Centre. Last year Lara’s production of Solomon and Marion, starring Dame Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony, was staged to great acclaim and she received the Fleur du Cap award for Best New South African Play. The production also won Best Lighting Design.

Lauren Gillis

It’s amazing how something so small can do something so big. I am Lauren Gillis. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, where a strong commitment to humanity and social justice was instilled in me from an early age. After studying social work at the University of the Witwatersrand, my 30 year career evolved into forming businesses and philanthropic organisations committed to supporting individuals in reaching their greatest potential. I TEDx because I believe that we are all connected, and that each of us has the responsibility and privilege to be an agent of social change. I am passionate that a small handmade connector, a simple string of beads, has remarkable power to restore dignity, hope and resilience to humanity. My idea worth spreading at TEDxCapeTown 2012 is how we can all create opportunities that change lives, sometime by doing the smallest things.

Chris Loker

I am Chris Loker, previously a bank/investment exec who now consult to a range of financial services companies on business strategy. I am the founder of a Sustainable Finance company and have interests in other entrepreneurial ventures including in wellness and entertainment. In 1990 I led a South African delegation to an international student conference in Japan on Sustainable Development and feel it's about time I got off the fence. I have a Business Science degree from UCT and other qualifications in finance. My idea worth spreading at TedxCapeTown 2012 is that the money industry is a essentially a simple one despite the mystique and opacity that the protagonists surround it in, so they can charge more. 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 for the flow of money. We need change catalysts.

Tim Noakes

Prof. Tim Noakes is a co-founder and executive director of the Sports Science Institute of SA, author, respected academic and A1 rated scientist. He has long been acknowledged as an expert in the field of sports and the science of physical exercise. Tim is a Director of UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM), Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town. He is also the Professor, Discovery Health Chair of Exercise and Sports Science, University of Cape Town.

Ulrike Rivett

I am Ulrike Rivett, an academic at the University of Cape Town in the Department of Civil Engineering. I arrived in South Africa in 1995 from Germany to do postgraduate studies in Cape Town. Since then, I have been privileged to learn through the people and the country of South Africa. I TEDx because I love to be inspired by inspiring people, to hear that other people just had ideas that turned into a real change – to feel the excitement of an enthusiastic speaker and to see the world through their eyes for 15 minutes is a fantastic experience. My idea worth spreading at TEDxCapeTown 2012 is about the ability to trust the water we drink. It’s about governments delivering services. It’s about our tendency to be depressed by all the “stuff ups” without coming up with a better solution. It’s about changing how we think.

Winslow Schalkwyk

Poet/Producer/Facilitator, Winslow downloads lessons, blessings and love - spiritually and emotionally - into journeys through words and sounds and the power held between these two elements. Winslow weaves words into tapestries which ignites the audiences’ passion for poetry and live performance. No stranger to the stage and with no fear of expressing his truth, Winslow takes his audience through journeys of self-discovery and the pain, ecstasy and freedom that loving your heritage, others and inevitably yourself brings.

Peter Greenwall

innovation consultant, corporate songwriter, author and errorthoughtical engineer - believes that if entrepreneurship and innovation training is going to stand a chance of changing South Africa then it needs to be presented in a way that's accessible to all - through music, comedy and reference points suitable for each target group.

Warren Nilsson

I spend most of my time puzzling over how organizations do or don’t foster social innovation. After 10 years doing community development work in the U.S., I moved to Montreal to do my doctoral research. I’m now on the faculty here at UCT and am also the cofounder of Organization Unbound. I TEDx because I have been working with and studying some of the most beautiful and innovative social purpose organizations on this planet. They have taught me a great deal about the generative power of authentic community, and I can’t help but want to share what I have learned. My idea worth spreading is that the biggest challenge the world is facing is not how to create change but how to sustain change, and that if we want to sustain change we are mostly paying attention to the wrong things, particularly inside our social purpose organizations and social movements.

Martin Tai Lyhne Jensen

I would describe myself as a humanist by nature, creative generalist by education and Interaction Designer by profession. I am interested in the hands-on people centered exploration of technology, social action, and the critical application of design to playfully prototype unbelievable ideas into powerful reality. I TEDx because I believe in demystifying and democratizing technology - and hope to pilot it towards the inspired imagination and skillful hands of individuals and communities who are ready to create the change they believe in. My idea worth spreading: Hitchhiking open technology towards local ingenuity. My idea worth spreading to present at TEDxCapeTown 2012 is that the true potential of technology is too great to be trapped within the imagination of technologists.

Mbali Vilakazi

An award-winning poet, performer and creative facilitator, my practice is inspired and informed by the ideas of ‘the personal as political’ and ‘the body as intervention’. As both witness and participant, I work with the specific intent to render visible the most invisible parts of our conversations, our communities and our humanity. I am a fragment of open still catching the light.

Hélène Smit

Hélène Smit has spent 25 years of her life as a researcher and teacher in the field of psychology and relationships. She is especially interested in what happens beneath the surface in individuals and groups and how it affects us. Hélène believes that greater general knowledge about the way the unconscious mind develops and works will significantly change the way we live. Particularly, she believes that our deepest creativity may sometimes reside far below the surface, and that with knowledge (and some courage) we could go and retrieve it.

Monique Schiess

After six and a half years in the desert Monique has a doctorate in driving rebar pegs into rock and shale and a PhD in the economics of artistic chaos and wrangling itinerant misfits and renegades. Otherwise known as the original and still active coordinator of AfrikaBurn, she sees herself as a fire starter of sorts, an instigator and incubator of creative projects across the board. She makes sport of poking people in their creative ribs. She believes that fun and waking up creativity is a most powerful vector for change in this world. She was a partner in the Mother City Queer Projects, has two degrees in Environmental Science and Social Anthropology and had an incarnation as a game ranger. My idea worth spreading to present at TEDxCapeTown 2012 is around building snowballs of engagement and practicing imagining.

Shannon Royden-Turner

Shannon Royden-Turner is driven by a mission to inspire transformation by continually seeking innovative solutions to issues of social and environmental inequality and injustice. Her social enterprise, in / formal south, focuses on integrating diverse disciplines to collectively question the notion that urban development is merely a spatial concern to be addressed exclusively with technical and physical solutions.

Louise van Rhyn

Louise van Rhyn is a social entrepreneur with a doctorate in large scale social change. She is a Homecomer and passionate South African citizen and has dedicated the next decade of her life to contributing to a radical transformation in the South African Education system so that all children in South Africa will have access to quality education by 2022. She is the founder of Symphonia for South Africa, a social enterprise with a mission to strengthen the fabric of South Africa. In 2010 she launched the innovative Partnerships for Possibility leadership process that brings business leaders into a co-learning and co-action partnership with school principals.

Roderick Lim Banda

I am an independent consultant in Enterprise Architecture and Software Architecture. I also co-founded a Chief Information Officer (CIO) Forum that is a social enterprise that has a strong partnership with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). We manage programs and initiatives that include research collaborations, skills development, job creation and internships. We help to create work and job opportunities for unemployed youths particularly from poorer and disadvantaged communities. We focus on aspiring computing and IT professionals who need assistance in developing software programming skills and experience.

Organizing team


Cape Town, South Africa


Cape Town, South Africa
  • James Howell
  • Matt Griffiths
    Production Specialist
  • Eshaam Rabaney
    App and IT Ninja
  • Saskia Baard
    Creative Guru
  • Lisa da Costa
    Operations Specialist
  • Holly Jade
    Music Maestro
  • Inky Serritslev
    Website Developer
  • Ian Duvenage
    Africa Communication & Technology Analyst, Strategist
  • Kirsten Eddey
    Social Media
  • Janet Early
    Graphics Guru & Pixel Pusher
  • Magdalini Giannakaki
    Communications Specialist
  • Andrew Vink
    Tech Guru
  • Sue Northam
    Shaper of words and ideas
  • Derrick Kotze
  • Ruach Slayen
    the Drummer