African Philanthropy on the rise
In April, the news of the creation of the African Philanthropy Forum was well received in the blogosphere, with this quote popping up a number of times:
“Twenty-seven out of 30 of Africa’s largest economies are experiencing extraordinary economic growth. This represents an enormous opportunity to advance the social good,” said Jane Wales, president and CEO of Global Philanthropy Forum. “But that growth, while robust, is not always broad-based. And development, while rapid, is not always inclusive. And so poverty persists. These generous African men and women — many at the height of their careers — are determined to change this reality and ensure that the benefits of economic opportunity are more evenly shared.”
Others pointed out that “philanthropy” has different meanings in the African context than in the West. And a new book explores and describes the various models and traditions.
“When American business magnate Warren Buffet pledged in 2006 to give away the bulk of his fortune to charity, a flurry of questions were asked: are such charitable acts just guilt-ridden attempts by skinflints engaged in an ‘alms race’ to assuage the feelings of the poor? Or are they a much-needed intervention by the very capitalists who have created so much inequality in the world?”
So, is African philanthropy different? Or does the same criticism apply to it? Does African philanthropy, too, have the “split personality” some accuse the West’s philanthropists of?
“Many newly rich people in Africa do feel a strong social responsibility to give back to the communities from which they came. … Across the board, there does seem to be a recognition that, with the levels of deprivation and injustice that we see in our world today, our common humanity demands a giving response from those who have more.”
And who are these African billionaires “stepping forward to give back to their communities”?