How to Spread it: The modern face of philanthropy

2013-10-27 14:00

Over the past 26 weeks, City Press has profiled philanthropists from across the continent as part of our How to Spread It series.

It has been inspiring and moving. But more than that, it has spread the message that giving is not about charity – it is about changing lives permanently.

In her interview, Mary Slack, the daughter of Harry Oppenheimer, said: “For people with money it is easy enough to give and much is expected, but it is much harder to give wisely and engage with society.”

The most common and powerful theme running through all the interviews is that these people – from Malian musician Salif Keita and Ghanaian former sportsman turned businessman Herbert Mensah, to self-made South Africans such as Herman Mashaba and Tim Tebeila – measure their success as philanthropists by sustainability and social impact.

Money is no longer the sole measure of philanthropic endeavour.

Philanthropy to make real change comes simply from action, no matter how small or how localised. Kenya’s Chris Mburu turned his own good fortune into a mechanism for changing the lives of many rural Kenyan children.

Uganda’s Rehmah Kasule also didn’t let lack of funds stop her from fulfilling her hope that “the women of the continent will have more income, be at negotiation tables, have stronger voices, have positive role models to inspire and mentor them, and have more access to resources to enable them to create better lives for themselves, their children and their children’s children”.

Keita, like a number of others featured in the series, has used his fame to bring awareness to the prejudices against people with albinism, a condition he shares.

Angelique Kidjo has used her musical success to boost the expectations of Africa’s daughters; as has Pheladi Gwangwa, the station manager at 702.

Paul Harris measures his success more practically “by the amount of people inspired to get off their butts and make a contribution, rather than complaining”.

Dr Vuyane Mhlomi, this week’s profiled giver and the final interview in the series, is an example of a new generation of philanthropists who are “paying it forward” to help others walk the same path of success they have trod.

We hope you have enjoyed this six-month journey into the hearts of this selection of givers and their stories of how they have “spread it”. The lesson of these stories is one

we know already, which Anne Frank put so well so long ago: “How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.”

» On November 20, we will be hosting a panel discussion titled Beyond Giving: How to Make Real Social Change. For more details, email

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