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Philanthropy in Zambia – Sonta abo wapela

IF one cannot point at what they have done – sonta apo wabomba, at least point at those you have given – sonta abo wapela. The Forbes Foundation published the list of the top leading African and world philanthropists or givers and no single Zambian appears on the list.
This is a serious concern and an indication that we are a nation with a very poor culture of giving to others in order to promote their welfare. Philanthropy or giving should not be an issue for Zambians because we have declared that we are Christian nation and giving is the central theme of the Christian faith.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have [be given] eternal life.’ John 3:16
In our desire for national development in our country, there is need to promote the culture of philanthropy or giving. The desire to give to others for good causes must take root in Zambia.
We are a country that has benefitted from donations from others since independence and can point to a lot of development in our country which can be credited to donors.
Unfortunately, and for unknown reasons the desire to give and donate to good causes amongst Zambians is not good. After so many years of social and economic development at personal and national level, it is unfortunate to be identified as a people who do not give others in order to uplift their welfare. ‘Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.’ Luke 6:38
The social and economic development of our country we desire will only materialise when we develop the desire to give. Through giving we will begin to appreciate what others are doing to develop our country. You do not need to be a millionaire to donate or give to a good cause such as a local clinic, school or orphanage.
The donation of a box of Panadol or pain killers to a local clinic, a box of chalk to a local school or a box of tomatoes for meals at the local orphanage can go a long way to help these institutions.
It is amazing in Zambia that those who do not give are the ones in the forefront of pointing a finger at the government of the day for poor service delivery to the people. ‘Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.’ Deuteronomy 15:10
Philanthropists donate millions of dollars to good causes around the world without pointing a finger or blaming governments for the poverty. They just give because they have a desire to give and they do not even give in order to gain political office.
The Forbes Foundation also publishes the names of leading world philanthropists in order to call upon others around the world to develop the desire to give in order to promote the welfare of those that are less privileged. ‘He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.’ Proverbs 22:9
According to Forbes Foundation, the leading world philanthropists are: Warren Buffett, who donated US$30.7 billion to health care, extreme poverty, education and access to information technology, Bill Gates – US$29.0 billion to health care, education, AIDS-prevention and sanitation, Li Ka-shing – US$10 billion to education and health care, Chuck Feeney – US$6.2 billion dollars to health care, youth, ageing, poverty and human rights.
G e o rg e S o r o s – US$6 billion to health care, anti- Fascist publications, human rights, economic, legal, and social reform, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – US$3.5 billion to various activities, Azim Premji – US$2.3 billion to education and health care, Howard Hughes – US$1.5 billion to health care
The leading A f r i c a n philanthropists are: Nigerian Aliko Dangote, founder of Dangote Group of Companies, another Nigerian Jim Ovia, founder of Zenith Bank, in third place is Zimbabwean Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless, fourth is Nigerian banker Tony Elumelu, founder of Heirs Holdings, and fifth is another Nigerian Arthur Eze, chairperson of Atlas Oranto Petroleum which owns oil and gas assets in many west African countries.
There is no Zambian on the top 50 leading African philanthropists list but some Zambians appear on the list of top 50 rich Africans.
Giving is a virtue and an indication of the high moral and spiritual standards of a person. Giving is spiritual and multiplies our blessing and the majority of Zambians should seek this blessing.
It is hypocrisy for some Zambians to pay huge sums of money for election nominations and campaigns and yet find it so difficult to make even small donations to their former primary or secondary schools or local clinic or orphanage.
We must understand that everywhere in the world, the government of the day can only go a certain distance in providing public services for national development, after that is the citizen’s help through giving or donations.
Imagine if all Zambians could donate to our former primary or secondary schools or local clinics, the standards could be better.
Even when foreign investors come to Zambia, they find that there is no culture of giving in the country, they also fold their arms and yet in the countries where they come from they all give generously to good causes in the local community.
Maybe apart from just saying, ‘sonta apo wabomba’ let us shout and say, ‘sonta abo wapela.’
T h e a u t h o r i s a P h D student in Management and Development Studies.