Ravi Naidoo @ THNK Forum, Pockets of Excellence

Ravi Naidoo of Interactive Africa from Cape town, is our expert tonite. Usually we have our forum sessions at the THNK home at the Westergasfabriek only today everything is different.
A couple of the participants were at the Stedelijk Museum this afternoon which happens to be across the road from the hotel where Ravi is staying, one thing led to another and now we are all in the Ravi’s hotel, the Conservatorium hotel, on the third floor, with two cases of South African wine and Eric as the facilitator. We introduce ourselves, people invent a variety of new backgrounds and origins and it’s great to meet my transformed co-participants, many of whom are disaster mitigation experts from France.

Ravi kicks off with telling us that he thinks ideas are great but it all comes down to implementation. He says ‘I get up early and I pedal hard all day’


photo from kulturnett.no

Ravi leads us through what he calls a whistle stop tour of a number of amazing conceptual and visionary projects across Africa, for example the Wimpy TV ad targeted at blind people, by writing with sesame seeds in braille on burgers, the advertisement is here. Check out these young new animators – the Black Heart gang from Cape Town who have been commissioned by United Airlines to make a new adadvertisement for them. And Die Antwoord who are a fake white trash band from South Africa. called Zef Ninja Rap Rave Crew.

Now we’re into the Questions and Answers

Menno is asking about South Africa as a country, which he finds most amazing, and he wonders why Ravi even feels the need to defend South Africa and remind us of the wonderful things there. Isn’t it obvious by now?
Ravi says good question, he says what I am presenting is pockets of excellence, there is no critical mass – yet – there is not yet a body of work. And that still needs to happen. And it’s been worked on. He refers to the recent Economist cover which asks the question why is South African growth numbers lagging behind those of other sub-saharan countries. So there are some questions there.

Gunter asks where Ravi thinks the future of design lies in the South African context. Ravi says, design is not to serve as brands or a handmaid for consumption, but design to improve the quality of life. To design services for the real needs of the bottom of pyramid. Ravi has a vision where people don’t design for B2B or B2C but for Business to Community.

Tim would love to know what the new titel of World Design Capital for Cape Town means, he asks especially because Taipei is bidding for this titel for 2016 and Tim and Jason are working on this.

Jesus would like to understand Ravi’s take on what the impact of the apartheid system still is now on parts of the South African population, he makes the connection with the context in his own country Mexico where indigenous people often underperform.
Ravi says that it’s hard to underestimate the importance of confidence and when you come from a family where no one has done well or expects to do well that that is an enormous obstacle to overcome. Now Jesus is wondering if then that the Truth and Reconciliation forum was a success. Ravi says that regardless if this process was perfectly delivered that for sure the genie is out of the bottle, the issues are on the table, they haven’t brushed it under the carpet to fester as many places.

Kaz wants to know, the details, like how to you really make it happen, as in Ravi has so much charisma, how key is that charisma, basically how does he do these amazing things. Ravi says he has – after 18 years of practice – being a commercial activist, as he calls himself, he has found a sweet spot, he is an activist at heart, knows the history of his country, and is equally at home in an executive boardroom, in fact none of his projects have been subsidized by government, they are subsidized by business and corporations, he says he has a gift of understanding the business side. Ravi sees that many social entrepreneurs never get past the struggle for financing, they never get to the flow situation where you really look at, how can we make impact. Get out of the rut!

Short interlude – Did i already say that Ravi brought us 3 boxes of fabulous wine to enjoy during this forum discussion.

Sofana ask about the role of creativity, that being someone who works on elevating the role of creative industry in Saudia Arabia. Ravi says leveraging your heritage, expressing yourself, telling stories, is so important and he says, the African story has yet to be told on the world stage. As a scientist and a business man one of his main aims is to get people to pay attention to the real estate in between the ears and not the real estate under our feet.

All the names of people asking questions refer to THNK participants, you can see them here, 

Ravi now presents us a pitch of his that he wants us to get excited about, Your Street
First, Screw GDP. The world is in a rough place at the moment, and this is not a recession it’s a fundamental reframe of how we do things. So Ravi has started a movement, a call to action, called Your Street and It’s gone gangbusters. From Capetown to Chile 10 cities are running Your Street competitions are being run. People are claiming back the power.

On the way are some flame throwers and game changers and my laptop battery is dying so the last round of the evening will be online 2moro. watchy this a space.🙂

2 thoughts on “Ravi Naidoo @ THNK Forum, Pockets of Excellence

  1. Pingback: THNK School: MineCraft for Grown Ups. « Emer Beamer

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