Giving is more than generosity. It's a unifying part of our African roots, binding the history and future of black peoples worldwide. This was a remarkable year of firsts in the Pan-African community's history of giving. Kwanzaa, the annual, week-long Pan-African holiday, celebrated throughout the US and the world, has just passed. But it still provides a moment to reflect on our shared giving traditions and how to make them stronger in this New Year. In particular, the third principle of Kwanzaa, Ujima, Swahili for collective work and responsibility, reminds us of the power of our self-help and giving.
We Are Philanthropists!
Multiple reports and books documented the undeniable fact that Pan-African people give. The World Bank reported that worldwide African immigrants gave an astounding $40 billion to their home countries with an estimated $11 billion coming from America alone. This combined with the $12 billion that African-Americans gave meant that Pan-African people gave at least $23 billion to charitable causes in 2011.
Valaida Fullwood's new book, Giving Back: A Tribute to African American Philanthropists, using evocative photography tells our story of giving, becoming one of America's top-selling black books. Giving Back and a growing number of publications highlight our powerful giving culture. Even Fortune magazine noticed in its article, "The Philanthropy of Africa's Top 40 Richest."
Next year, the African Women's Development Fund USA will sponsor the first-ever US African Diaspora Philanthropy Study to better document the giving of the diverse Pan-African groups that now make up the US black community.
Women Leading the Way
When we come together in the spirit of Ujima, our giving builds movements that strengthen opportunity for all. By granting a joint Nobel Peace Prize to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, the world recognized the impact of our giving to transform lives. Women are key leaders in our communities' collective giving and work. Unleashing their leadership can rebuild our communities as Gbowee's and Sirleaf's examples show.
Our communities worldwide are organizing to tie together our individual giving for social change. Featured in the NAACP's recent issue of The Crisis Magazine, over three-hundred diverse African descent women and their allies convened in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the first-ever global Pan-African Women's Action Summit (PAWAS) in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. With participants coming from as far as Tanzania and Nigeria, the Summit included a stellar line-up of world class keynote speakers and book signings by our Movement's diverse leaders, including Dr. Julianne Malveaux, renowned economist and Bennett College president; First Lady Bisi Adeyele Fayemi, founder and president of the African Women's Development Fund in Ghana; poet Sonia Sanchez; Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, CEO/President of Global Fund for Women; activist Naomi Tutu; Grace Stanislaus, Museum of the African Diaspora Executive Director and Tiffany Dufu, CEO/President of The White House Project, Dr. Stigmata Tenga, president of Tanzania's Foundation for Civil Society. PAWAS reminded us that, especially if we come together around women's leadership, our communities cannot only survive but thrive.
Our Pan-African Women's Film Festival, featuring "Dark Girls" filmmaker, D. Channsin Berry and facilitated by Global Fund for Women's Muadi Mukenge, Priority Africa Network's Nunu Kidane, Black Alliance for Just Immigration's Opal Tometi, and activist Amel Gorani among others highlighted Pan-African women's challenges and contributions. Other highlighted films included "Memoirs of a Black Latina" by Crystal Roman, Africa is a Woman's Name by Ingrid Sinclair, Bridget Pickering and Wanjiru Kinyanjui as well as 12 other films featuring black women's stories from around the world.
Sponsored by the Pan-African Women's Philanthropy Network, an AWDF USA project, and encouraged by proclamations from Minnesota's governor, Twin Cities mayors and city councils, our Movement declared every August as Pan-African Giving Month. Every year we will use August as a month to highlight and celebrate our communities' spirit of Ujima.
Other networks emerged throughout the US and globe to encourage giving and social innovation as the keys to our communities' success. The Black Women's Donor Action Group organized a national public information campaign to encourage more giving to all causes. The Next Generation of African American Philanthropists and the Community Investment Network are two other African American efforts to strengthen our giving traditions.
It was a momentous year for philanthropy in Africa too. The African Grantmakers Network, a coalition of African-led philanthropies, turned on year-old and continues to build on the momentum following its first Pan-African Assembly in 2010.
Towards a New Future
In our global world, America has become a center for African and African diaspora giving.US is a formidable force in African giving. AWDF USA connects Africans and Americans through giving to transform our Motherland and the world. Stay tuned in your area for AWDF USA's expanded 2012 program of events, research and services to promote African philanthropy and social innovation.
Wishing you the best for 2012, as we work together to build a new future for our communities worldwide.
Follow Jackie Copeland-Carson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jcopelandcarson