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Call for Papers on African Philanthropy

Africa e Mediterraneo, No. 78/2013

The word 'philanthropy' actually comes from the ancient Greek phrase philanthropia, meaning "to love people". Over time, this concept has evolved to signify the act of giving, on the part of both individuals and organizations, for the public good, with the term also referring to strategic giving (grant making) by foundations and non-profit organizations.

Philanthropy has become an area of growing interest on the African continent. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of philanthropic initiatives and organizations seeking to address social, economic and political inequality. As such, Africans are now challenging the notion that Africa is purely a "donor recipient" continent. Indeed, the rich institution of giving and philanthropic practice has a long history in Africa, an example is the concept of ubuntu that has now been used as a tool for channeling local philanthropy into emerging community foundations.

The next issue of Africa e Mediterraneo therefore aims to examine the evolution of African philanthropy. Articles may focus on formal or informal, vertical or horizontal, individual or community-based forms of philanthropy. Indeed, different kinds of philanthropy are now blooming in Africa. There are many interesting cases of foundations that have been set up by African leaders, celebrities, businessmen and sport personalities who have made their fortune abroad and are now investing in the African continent (diaspora philanthropy). These people are seeking to make a difference in terms of social, cultural and governance issues (Moyo, 2008), with one example being the Sudanese-born British telecommunications magnate Mo Ibrahim, who has recently established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. This prize celebrates African leaders who have contributed to the development of their countries, lifted people out of poverty, and paved the way for improvements in security, health, education and economic development. It is well known that, in Africa, where most governments play no discernible role in the promotion of culture, and where cultural policy is a very low priority, foundations can facilitate cross-border connections between artists and cultural organizations, as exemplified by the Zinsou (Benin) and Sindika Dokolo (Angola) Foundations.

There are also a number of African philanthropic foundations that have been established by Western foundations and have since become autonomous entities. One example is Trust Africa, which was set up in 2001 under the aegis of the Ford Foundation and in 2006 became a truly African foundation, opening a new headquarters in Dakar. Another example is the Urgent Action Fund-Africa, established by the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights, which became a wholly African foundation in 2001 thanks to the work of Kaari Betty Murungi, a Kenyan lawyer and former Urgent Action Fund board member. Women play a particularly important role in the growing field of African philanthropy, despite the fact that their contributions, successes and challenges remain largely unrecorded. Indeed, it has been observed that women pursue a different approach to the management of funds and have emerged as critical players and investors in feminist movements, both in Africa and worldwide. Community foundations are also promoting other forms of African philanthropy, with these foundations having the unique status of independent institutions supported by private funds. They usually seek to address local needs (e.g. The Community Development Foundation Western Cape).

Philanthropy has a long history in Islamic societies, where one of the five religious pillars is the zakat (religious giving). Indeed, studies from the American University of Cairo have recently underlined the importance of revival among religious philanthropic foundations, based on a rights-based approach to charitable giving on the basis of which "the charitable practices of present Islamic societies should be conceived in terms of a moral and social 'right' of the beneficiaries to receive assistance and support with due respect for their human dignity"' (An-Naim and Halim, 2006).

Some of the key questions that contributors might like to consider include: Does local philanthropy and the participation of civil society organizations add value to African foundations' activities? What is the financial, social, political and intellectual role of the diaspora in African philanthropy? What is the impact of African philanthropy on African states' public policies? Have community foundations contributed to local development? How can Islamic philanthropy sustain the evolution of popular democratic movements, civic participation and non-violent struggles in North African countries?

Please submit abstracts (400 words maximum) for consideration to the editor at m.bignami@africaemediterraneo.it by 15 April 2013. If your abstract is selected, you will be asked to submit the full article by 15 May 2013. Abstracts and articles can be submitted in one of the following languages: English, French, Italian and Spanish.