In this conversation, African Philanthropy Network (APN) speaks with Bochum Samuel Bache, the Founder and Executive Director of Youth Advocates for Peace and Community Empowerment Cameroon (YAPCEC). He is also serving as the Cameroon National Youth Delegate to the Commonwealth Youth Council, and a Peace and Security fellow at the African Center for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). Bochum speaks more about the work he is doing in driving impact and change in Cameroon.
The APN 2022 Essay Contest’s top four winners participated in a recent webinar that focused on youth narratives of African Philanthropy practices. Featuring in the webinar was Teboho Polanka from Lesotho who was the top winner of the contest, Keyame Gofamang of Botswana who emerged second, Philip Hope Ifeoluwa of Nigeria who scooped the third position and Mercy Wangari of Kenya who took the fourth position. The winners were thrilled to share their perspectives on the significance of African Philanthropy in their different communities.
What are some of the systems challenges that the philanthropic sector will potentially face in future, considering social and innovation impact? What are some of the models and approaches than can drive African Philanthropy? Where’s the money for Africa in climate financing? How can technology advance African Philanthropy? What is the role of Youths in driving African Philanthropy?
As part of the series that APN is hosting with key African Youth across the continent, we had the pleasure of connecting with Jessica Mshama. Jessica is the Founder of the Assumpta Digital School and also serves as an ambassador of the East Africa Community (EAC). The conversation focused on the work she does in driving impact and change within her space and across the continent.
Theme: The Role of African Philanthropy in transforming community challenges through Innovation,
Policy and Practice.
Africa Philanthropy Network is the only continent-wide network of organizations and individuals in Africa and its diaspora who promotes the culture of philanthropic giving. It is conceived as a space for African institutions to interrogate and intervene in the power dynamics that shape how resource mobilization, distribution and spending impact the possibilities of transformative change in Africa. APN’s mission is to reclaim the power and elevate the practices of African philanthropy. In achieving this mission, APN is working in collaboration with its membership & other philanthropy support organizations to promote the voice and actions of African philanthropy through the building of solidarity and coordinated response in African philanthropy landscape; rethinking and build the case for the potential for African (individual and community) philanthropy to drive social change.
As we continue to document what African Giving to Africans, we decided to enquire from some pure minds on what they thought of some of the ideas we ponder on here at APN. Below are some joyful, curious and interesting responses from children aged 11-13 on what (African) giving is:
There has been a spotlight on climate change, and issues related to climate change this year. Finances have been pledged towards mitigating various crises that have emanated due to legacies of extraction, industrialization and environmental degradation.
In Africa, water access, management and distribution remain key issues that affect womn. At UAF-Africa, we know that the water crisis is very personal for women. According to UNESCO (2016) an estimated three quarters of households in sub-Saharan Africa fetch water from a source away from their home and 50% to 85% of the time, womn are responsible for this task. Currently, through climate financing, water management projects are largely privatized leading to womn facing more nuanced struggles with accessing safe and clean water. Typically, due to climate financing being controlled by multilateral finance institutions – projects are largely proposed/bid for by private entities, funded by development institutions and the management of water is shifted to private control, leading to monetization of a natural resource which is a human right. This means that for many living on the margins, the cost of water is now prohibitive and yet this is a vital resource for sustaining life.
The past 12 years of working with informal sector actors, Equality for Growth (EfG) has continued to provide women with access to rights and business knowledge, opportunities, resources, and legal justice. Through utilizing an approach of collaboration, we have worked in partnership with our beneficiaries to empower them in raising their voices and awareness of their agendas.
EfG have trained women market traders to be paralegals and legal community supporters who have been working on preventing and handling Gender Based Violence in marketplaces and deliver free legal aid and support to market traders, through this platform they have been able to reach 10,360 market traders, handled over 630 cases for the past 3 years.
Philanthropic Nostalgia: African Giving revisited through an analysis of the Abagusii marriage ceremony
Love may be the universal language of philanthropy, but those of us born in an era of severe individualism may think of kindness only in monetary terms and fail to understand the depth of the African deposits of other philanthropic traditions such as marriage. Traditional African marriages embodied the spirit of philanthropy in many ways; the spirit of collaboration, the volunteerism, the gift giving in all manners, the celebration of union. And of course, at its core: a strong relationship underpinned by love that is said to transcend even death.
But we must not fall prey to the philanthropic nostalgia of it all. Even as it remains a cornerstone of African tradition, marriage still often lends itself to the unfair treatment and perception given to the women in the biases of patriarchy. The marital procedures for the Abagusii people of Kenya is a great illustration of this.
My late grandmother (Alexina Momanyi) once told me that when a young Omogusii man has reached marital age, the first step is that scouts (chisigani) are sent to comb through families in the community looking for a potential wife. The scouts that spy for the lady they consider a potential wife are always male. Once a lady is chosen, they have no voice, but rather have to be submissive to what the parents would decide. The parents of the young man are informed about the finding. Negotiation of dowry price would follow. The women are commodified as a product in the market, ready for purchase with the physical inspection of beauty that would ensue before confirmation was given. When both man and woman are content, they shake hands and swear to keep the promise of marrying each other. This part dimly brings the woman into the picture of choosing her lover, although it is just a formality because the parents generally have the final say.
Before the wedding day, the fiancée visits the fiance. She enjoys a sleepover but a young boy sleeps in between them to ensure no sexual intercourse. Sex is for married couples. This is said to be a philanthropy of good values. The willingness of being faithful is evident in this sleepover. Patience is conspicuous too. It is eminent as well that love is beyond sex since the two would sleep in the same bed without sex on that day.
On the wedding day, the fiancée is escorted to her matrimonial home by other women her age. On such a big day, many people are present and there is a chance that one of the finacée mates will be admired by a potential husband, so they are encouraged to come in droves. This act also portrays the idea that the married girl comes from a community of many like her, hence any injustice to her symbolizes an injustice to other women like her, and her whole community by extension. In the same vein, respect shown to her in her matrimonial home would mean respect to her family, friends and the whole community. This is philanthropy of mutual love and co-existence.
The young man’s party comes a day before. A large pot (embiru) and some blankets are handed to the fiancée’s mother. A fat goat is tied with a rope on one leg and handed to the fiancée’s dad, an appreciation for the good work done in the nurturing of the hardworking girl. The girl’s parents give her a wooden table, three chairs and some utensils. This element of giving support to the daughter is a plausible form of women empowerment, but it is telling that the supplies given to her already point to her responsibilities ending at homemaking duties.
A round metallic bracelet, egetinge, is given to the wife and fitted onto her ankle. Its purpose is similar to that of the wedding ring as seen in other communities. It symbolizes the commitment and willingness of the wife to remain in her matrimonial home even after the husband dies. Not even death sets the couple apart. This is philanthropy of eternity to love and marriage. It therefore inherently invokes patience, tolerance, understanding, commitment, and true love in marriage because of this eternal bond.
Through the lead up to as well as the marriage ceremony itself, it is evident that philanthropy is not just about giving money. The scouts helped in the spying for the best potential wife for their friend who had reached the age of marriage. The giving of the table, utensils and chairs to the new couple is philanthropic. The marriage ceremony fostered the spirit of sharing. The egetinge ankle bracelet symbolized a commitment in the marriage that transcended even death. But what is also evident are the negative aspects of male dominance and belittlement of the woman in an occasion that is just as important to her life as it is to her husband’s. There is still a clear sense of dehumanization of the woman.