09/30/2011 03:01 pm ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011

Embracing Otherness: Jarreth Merz

The fourth speaker featured in my session on Embracing Otherness at TEDGlobal was Ghanian actor and artist, Jarreth Merz.

Resisting his "other" self, the African heritage of his father, had been a driving force in Jarreth Merz's life. He left his father's Ghana as a young boy, after yet another military coup, and moved to Europe where he hoped to "shed his African skin," he told the TED audience. He became an actor, often typecast as the "angry African" or the terrorist. He played so many violent characters, he told us, that he almost became one before he decided to go back to his native Ghana and make a documentary about the presidential elections of 2008.

This turned into a life changing experience, one that brought him to embrace his otherness as an African and to more fully understand and document why democracy in Africa, while still fragile in places, is robust and multifaceted. His documentary, An African Election, illustrates the stories on the ground that often contradict the stereotype of violence and corruption. The film is touring on a political safari to other African countries holding elections to help them embrace another side of democracy.