Last week on Friday, we (www.sivioinstitute.org) launched our 2023 signature initiative-AfricaGiving (www.africagiving.org). It has been a long and challenging but exciting journey to get here and there is still a long journey ahead. AfricaGiving is many things to different people, on the one hand, it is about our culture, and what defines us as a people. Bheki Moyo and Tade Aina in their seminal edited book summarised our existence elegantly as comprising of ‘giving to help and helping to give.’ We go a step further and suggest that giving is our essence-we give to live and live to give. Perhaps this is best encapsulated in the norms of Ubuntu- I am because you are. African Giving speaks of our interdependence on each other- perhaps affirming the English saying that no man/woman is an island. Our lives and our destinies are interconnected. We are known as a people of warmth, love, solidarity, and resilience. We have carried the world before, and we still do. For indeed there are many more resources that leave our shores than those that flow in. We have it in our stride to soldier with the little that we share amongst ourselves.
However, there is an unsettling in our bellies. A rumbling of sorts. That we are also good enough. We cannot live on the crumbs from the Master’s table. Since the turn of the century, we have seen a new and reinvigorated passion not only to change Africa but the world. We do not only export products we export culture, Afrobeats, Amapiano, but African storytelling in movies also made here in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nollywood. Our sons and daughters are filling stadiums in far-off lands. We may just have arrived on the scene, but we are shaking the world. Our entrepreneurs are changing the African business landscape in profound ways. We now talk of a list of Africa’s own billionaires, from Patrice Motsepe, Strive Masiyiwa, Aliko Dangote and many others… We are building strong African brands. It is perhaps Africa’s time.
There are urgent challenges as well. The number of the poor is not slowing down. It is growing. Inequality – the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Our success is not widely shared. There are more children living below the poverty datum line, our future- the youth- are dying trying to cross the treacherous seas to make a living in places where they remain unwanted. Nineteenth-century diseases like Cholera are making an unwelcome return to our cities. We risk leaving so many behind in the effort to increase Africa’s prominence on the global stage.
What are we to do? Could this be the time to complain about how our governments are failing us? Or how the international community has let us down? Have we not done enough complaining already? What if now is the moment for us to pull together in solidarity as a people? What if we seek to reconfigure the limitations of our civilisation by challenging received wisdom which has placed a premium on accumulation and very little on giving? What if we considered a new paradigm of shared responsibility- it is not up to the government alone, but it is our responsibility to create conditions of inclusive societies. Can we revisit that moment in history when success was not only about profit but included the extent to which we cared for each other? Is there a way of measuring success- beyond the usual net worth towards a more comprehensive understanding of what we do with our time, skills, and resources to help lift others out of poverty? A little kindness goes a long way. Over the years we have listened to titans in industry, politics, and other spheres of the economy and without fail they always refer to that moment when there was a helping hand at the beginning of their journey.
The world requires more kindness than before. Today we celebrate sprinklings of kindness. The few amongst us whom we celebrated through the awarding of the inaugural AfricaGiving awards have turned logic on its head when it comes to money. Instead of keeping it, they have been giving it away. They have not only given money, but they have also been in the trenches fighting and believing for a better world. We applaud their love for humanity. We are humbled by their energy and commitment to a better world.
Africa Giving is a restless and impatient movement for transformation. We seek to contribute towards a new way of thinking- we recognize that no one is coming to fund our development. We are responsible for our communities- where we came from, where we are and where we are going. AfricaGiving has made it easy for all of us. In the past, many would ask how they could support the different change makers spread across the continent? Many of you asked, ‘How do I trust that my funds will go to a genuine and capable organisation to address causes dear to me?’ We now have an answer. Over the course of 2023, we have sat down with close to one hundred organisations, carried out compliance tests, and challenged them to talk about their role in society and their impact. These brave organisations from all over the continent are listed on www.africagiving.org and are ready to receive your support. A little kindness goes a long way.
That is only the beginning. We are hoping to convince you dear reader to choose one organisation that you will partner with throughout 2024 with a gift as low as ZAR200/USD10 per month. You will be making a significant difference in helping sustain the activities of these organisations. Once you embark on the giving journey via AfricaGiving we can assure you of 100% transparency on the organisations you are supporting and regular reports on how your donations are making a difference.
The journey has just begun.