Hurdles of Philanthropy


In the second to last speech of the day, fellow Kenyan, Auma Obama, takes to the stage. Obama is the half-sister of US President Barack Obama. She founded the development aid foundation "Sauti Kuu" ("Powerful Voices") in late 2011.

Obama begins her speech with the statement that the age-old concept of philanthropy has long been thought to be a good thing. Challenging this, she says that in the case of Africa, it is worth asking how philanthropy measures up to development. "There we stumble across the question of sustainable."

For development to be sustainable, it needs to be part of the value chain. It cannot only be purely philanthropic, Obama argues. By definition philanthropy is about giving to those in greater need. Such aid plays a vital role in crisis relief. But it is only a snippet of the much more complex task of development.

"We want to change the definition of poverty. And we need to change the mindset of the people we are working with," Obama states. "People need to take ownership. We Africans need to realise we are in charge of our own destinies." Sometimes that also includes saying no to aid offered or a project proposed, she says.

From the West, Obama demands it get involved in development efforts not because of the feel-good factor that comes through helping, but because it believes in the change it can instigate.

An extra long round of applause accompanies Auma Obama as she ends her provocative and energised speech and walks off the DLDw13 stage.

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