Whose Agenda? Power and Philanthropy in Africa

"Any discussion of power has to be situated within context. In Africa, there are glaring power imbalances at all levels of society and they take many different forms – gender relations, asset ownership and resource rights, patriarchal systems, political decision-making, age, race and ethnicity, among others. The ways in which our societies choose to understand, situate and govern power is central to how the institutions within society evolve and the roles they seek – and choose – to play. It is here that the personal is political, and the political is personal. As we examine the issue of power in philanthropy, we should be mindful that too often the ways in which power plays out are often directly rooted in the broader power inequalities within society. Yet in philanthropy, the question of power is often relegated, even ignored. This is to our peril: without acknowledging, examining and confronting the power question, we risk being untrue to ourselves and, in the process, undermining our efforts at achieving a more just society."