The next Einstein will be African – Inspiring African innovation

The next Einstein will be African – A wish that inspired the world


World-renowned, South-African-born physicist Neil Turok speaks out for talented young Africans starved of opportunity in a touching and insightful TED talk. He gave the talk at the acceptance of his 2008 TED prize.

You can view his talk at here

Neil Turok expressed a passionate wish that the international community and his fellow scientists would help develop the bright scientific minds of Africa by 2020.

He tells a fascinating tale of his adventures as a teacher after his return to Africa at age 17.

He became a volunteer teacher in Lesotho, in a poverty stricken village where 80% of the men worked in the mines across the border in South Africa. Nevertheless, he was welcomed into the village and had a group of eager kids to teach.

He tells an amazing story of the talent and raw intelligence waiting to be unlocked. He would routinely take his class of young kids outside to help them connect the academic world with the real world.

One day he asked them to estimate the height of a building, expecting rulers against walls and finger-measured estimations. One little boy just sat down and started scribbling on the floor. When a somewhat irritated Neil Turok asked him what he was playing at, he replied: measuring the height of a brick, counting bricks and multiplying.

Turok uses this and other amazing examples to show that by unlocking and nurturing the continent’s creative potential, positive change can happen in Africa. He speaks passionately about how many similar experiences convinced him that there are many smart, inventive and talented kids in Africa. If they are lacking anything, it is opportunity – and, ‘if Africa is going to get fixed, it’s by them, not by us.’

Neil Turok’s adventures as a volunteer teacher led him to realise that with the right education and opportunity, Africa could shine. However, without action, a wish remains just a wish. Turok cleverly uses his TED award acceptance speech as a platform to get support for his dream. The idea was to use his speech to drum up suppost for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, or AIMS. AIMS was founded by Neil Turok in 2003.

The idea of AIMS, according to Turok, is to ’recruit students from the whole of Africa, bringing them together with lecturers from all over the world to give them a fantastic education.’ According to the AIMS page, available here,  research shows that investment in university-level education in Africa may well be the fastest route to a technological catch-up and to economic development.

AIMS is already making a difference, and Neil Turok is well on his way to showing how a wish can change he world.

Have a look at the statistics on and please let us know your opinions on Neil Turok and on AIMS and it’s ideals.


Bangula is passionate about the ideals of AIMS and education in Africa in general. In the past ten years, Bangula has been extensively involved in the editing, translation and writing of educational texts, including e-learning material. Contact us now for more information.