Scene City: Africa’s givers awarded

2012-11-03 13:46

Every once in a while, you meet people who remind you to have hope for humanity in these times of narcissistic reality-TV stars and the Twitterverse.

We’re talking about people who give selflessly without expecting anything in return.

I met such individuals this past Tuesday at The Campus in Bryanston, Joburg, for the 2012 Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards.

The 300 guests included delegates from the African Grantmakers Network (AGN), who hobnobbed with each other before the inaugural African Philanthropy Award, which was presented at the event along with the Inyathelos.

While it was the first time the AGN hosted the awards, the Inyathelos have been going on for the past five years and have held the event in Cape Town.

Among the recipients were Mpumalanga youth Amon Maseko, who started the Up Beat Youth Centre in Tweefontein to help equip youth with computer skills; and Harvard Business School student Athol Williams, who started the Taurus Schools Solution in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town, and Diepsloot in Joburg.

The Special Recognition Award for Philanthropy went to businessman Ahmed Mia Cassim, who funded the development of classrooms for Johannesburg Council for the Disabled school in Lenasia.

The keynote speech was given by Jay Naidoo, who was suitably regal in his blue dashiki. His credentials took the MC, Carte Blanche’s Bongani Bingwa, a whole five minutes to read out.

Naidoo’s passionate and fiery speech was rousing. “Giving is not only about money. It’s about sharing intellectual, networking, business and social capacity,” he said.

The speech then took a political turn when he mentioned the deficiency of leadership. “Human greed destroyed the dream of our forefathers. The people of my generation have to make way for the new generation and be there to provide support,” he said.

Later, more awards were awarded to local Lex Kirsten, Rwandan refugee Alice Wamundiya and Democratic Republic of the Congo refugee Luzoki Bulimwengo, who all received the Social Justice Philanthropy award.

One of my favourite recipients was North West’s Grace Masuku, who added an Inyathelo Lifetime Community Philanthropy award to her collection.

Masuku is known for her work in nature conservation and using indigenous plants for medicinal purposes.

The octogenarian firebrand shared her pride when one of her granddaughters, Palesa, won first prize at the Eskom Science fair.

“Look at where you are and teach your children. I think that’s why I don’t age. Just look at me,” she said as she was given
a standing ovation.

The International Philanthropy award went to siblings Gerald and Jacqueline Fox; while the Lifetime Philanthropy Award went to Limpopo’s Dr Peter John Farrant, who started the Meetsetshehla Secondary School, and for his HIV/Aids work at the Waterberg Welfare Society.

The AGN’s inaugural African Philanthropy award went to Marwa El-Daly, the founder and chairperson of the Maadi Community Foundation in Egypt. El-Daly was commended for her work in mobilising communities and using traditional cultural practices of charity to get people to participate.

It’s people like these that can make you realise that you really don’t have to be rich to be able to give.

» Follow me on Twitter @Mokgads

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