The State of Philanthropy in Africa and the Reality of Change – By Satmak Dapar

People from across the world give Africa different meanings, interpretations and impressions. On the one hand, it is seen through negative lens – a place where limitless depressions, hopelessness, frustrations and all sorts of negative conditions abound. On the other hand, many people see it as a place with dazzling and stunning opportunities. I stand with the latter. I’ll explain as the article goes further. Being born and raised in Africa, I’ve had multiple opportunities to see the continent from a variety of positions – as a student, media enthusiast, volunteer for charity and an upcoming philanthropist. It is truly a great continent with limitless potentials and resources – both human and natural. However, due to some obvious reasons lost to history, we are where we are today faced with some bone-chilling situations almost beyond control. We haven’t exhausted our greatness, relevance and worth anyway! To say we have, is erroneous and counterfeit. Many thanks to the likes of Prof. Patrick Lumumba who is vigorously leading the search process for Africa’s renaissance and reawakening through his cutting-edge initiatives. The ‘Congress of African Visionaries’ envisioned by me is among the many initiatives Africa has had in order to recreate its future. the ‘Yes Youth Can’ in Kenya, the ‘Africa’s Growth and Opportunity Initiative’ in Malawi, Sudan and Zimbabwe, the ‘People’s Right to Obtain Our Freedom’ by James Badu-EL (USA) among others are literally defining promising futures for a continent sadly, experiencing snail-speed growth and development. Though the progress seem slow and the future looks cloudy, yet, the continent still stands, living its dream to achieve true change and be a strategic leader in global affairs. The reality is that, nothing is wrong with Africa’s weather, the sea, natural resources, the beautiful mountains, breath-taking views and valleys. The deserts, forests, soil, animals, tourist’s attractions, rivers and rocks are all great resources/potentials Africa is endowed with. What we are experiencing is leadership failure – failure in the sense that our common wealth, resources and vast potentials have been plundered for the wrong reasons and failure in the sense that the right leadership structures are woefully shattered. Thus, connecting the dots seem to be a hard nut to crack.

I find no joy knowing that poverty keeps biting hard and climate change continues to affect our existence. The prevalence of malnutrition, diseases, lack of access to quality health and education, inequality and insecurity are deeply traumatic and troubling to say the least. All of the aforementioned and many others are issues constantly debated at local and international levels but with little or no results. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are designed specially to address these issues. Whether or not we are achieving results or member-states are serious about them is left to be judged by history. Recent reports by one of the speakers at the ‘Global Philanthropy Forum’ indicates that about $250bn by private citizens in America goes to charity in Africa annually. She also said, about 15 – 30% of U.S budget is allocated for foreign aid with an overwhelming majority going to Africa. Amazing! As part of their foreign policy initiative, many European countries embark on charity activities in Africa by perhaps, executing development projects, scholarships, economic empowerment, capacity building initiatives, eradicating poverty, closing the inequality gaps and tackling climate change among others. These are important steps primarily taken by foreign philanthropists, donor agencies, foundations, governments and private global citizens out of goodwill and concern. The Australian Aid, UK Aid, USAID, Ford Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Gates Foundation, Red Cross, Malala Fund and others are increasingly creating opportunities for Africa to grow through strategic philanthropy. It breaks my heart however to know that we are abusing those privileges. Where is the justification if the poorest of the poor can’t benefit from the aid because they are probably diverted or not well utilized? Another misconception is the establishment of too many foundations by individuals in Africa in order to enjoy foreign funding. No! That’s a misplaced priority. Philanthropy is philanthropy. It can never be twisted and given a wrong dimension. Philanthropy in Africa ought to be done genuinely through the deployment of private wealth for public benefit. Ideally, what should define philanthropy in Africa is passion and compassion. Doing so with a sense of purpose and shared vision makes it literally successful. I love philanthropy. Touching lives positively is my passion. The ‘Congress of African Visionaries’ was formed to mobilize capacities for change in Africa, focusing primarily on poverty reduction, capacity building and educational development. The vision will be made clear in the course of time. From my standpoint, it is extremely unwise to continuously depend and wait for the coming of foreign aid. That’s not smart. That we have our numerous problems doesn’t mean we should be lackadaisical in proffering solutions and building capacities to grow. Let’s not get stuck against a plateau. Foreign aid has sharply declined in recent history. In a recent media chat with a notable personality whose organization depends on grants, he said, “currently, our offices in other states have been closed down and staff members reduced because of reduced funding and opportunities. We hope however to get back to our days of glory when everything normalizes.” What difference are we going to make? What vision are we going to implement to put Africa on the right path to self-realization and sustainability? What specific role can we all play to get out of the woods and help our people without waiting for aid necessarily? These rhetorical questions keep me up at night, yet, they also give me the energy, drive and enthusiasm to think outside the box and come up with solutions.

Specifically, Africa needs true change. It needs visionary leaders from South Africa to Nigeria. From Malawi to Zimbabwe. From Uganda to Sudan. From Niger Republic to Chad. From Egypt to Congo. From the North to the South and of course from the East to the West. Men and women of vision are increasingly rare nowadays. We have billionaires in Africa. I encourage them to help others to succeed. That’s the price we’ve got to pay as a people. No one should be left behind. The world is changing, moving fast and experiencing revolutionary breakthroughs each and every day. Let’s move with the change. I look forward to working with other visionaries to make that change possible. Let’s get to work. A stitch in time saves nine.

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The State of Philanthropy in Africa and the Reality of Change – By Satmak Dapar

About The Author
- Studied Mass Communication from the University of Jos. He is a Journalist, a blogger, a public relations practitioner and an advocate for social justice.

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