Giving, African style

2013-05-05 10:00

We launch a series of Q&As with philanthropists on the continent

Charity may begin at home, but philanthropy goes a lot further. If charity is about hand-outs to the marginal, the poor and the socially excluded, philanthropy is about changing the way we live fundamentally.

There is a new breed of philanthropist coming up in Africa to meet the challenge. Enter a generation of supersuccessful African women and men who are putting their resources where their passion is – the human and capital development of the continent of their birth.

Today, City Press goes live with a weekly series of Q&As with some of Africa’s most adventurous philanthropists.

First up, a conversation with Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born cellphone billionaire whose giving credo defines the new way. “It is not so much a duty to give away wealth,” he told City Press, “but it is in all our interests to create a dynamic, inclusive and prosperous Africa.”

Ibrahim is one among several leading philanthropists who talked to us for this series – from super-rich entrepreneurs eager to invest in growing business skills and new technologies, to well-known artists who leverage their celebrity to advocate for change and come up with imaginative solutions to underdevelopment on the continent.

These are the rich and powerful who have taken a step beyond their own lives to spread their wealth and influence in ways that match social needs to economic imperatives, and prosperity to democratic values.

When it comes to “how to give”, the new philanthropic thinking delivers rich pickings that go way beyond the usual suspect, corporate social investment.

From legendary Nigerian banker Tony Elumelu, who helped to create a commodities exchange in Rwanda, to bestselling South African author Richard Mason, who knows the name of every child his foundation has put through high school, new philanthropic thinking delivers rich and varied pickings.

What our featured philanthropists all have in common is their passion for Africa and for finding home-grown solutions to home-grown problems. Elumelu sums up the feeling: “I am a 21st-century philanthropist who believes no one can develop Africa except us Africans.”

Above all, our featured philanthropists agree, giving makes them happy. As Angélique Kidjo, the Beninoise singer and philanthropist puts it: “Yes, it makes me happy. I feel so blessed by the beauty of our culture and so proud of where I come from.”

»?This series was developed in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust

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