By Catherine Mwendwa, Africa Hub Director
This reflection was originally published on the GivingTuesday Africa Hub blog.
Recalling the recent inaugural GivingTuesday Africa Summit, held this month in Nairobi, Kenya, I’m reminded of an African proverb: “A single bracelet does not jingle.” It captures the sense of unity I felt among leaders from 17 African countries as we converged to shape a common vision. The mission was clear: to be catalysts in celebrating, understanding, and inspiring generosity through collaboration and innovation.
For most of us, this was the first time we met face-to-face, and it was a genuinely inspiring and enjoyable experience.
Throughout our discussions, we shared many ideas. Some were centered on particular communities, networks, or countries, while others underscored the significance of fostering cultures of giving that transcend borders, languages, and traditions. We specifically explored opportunities to use technology to support emerging giving communities, facilitate intergenerational learning, acknowledge the often-underappreciated efforts of young individuals, and shed light on enduring traditions and practices that continue to influence contemporary philanthropy.
One theme that deeply resonated with us was storytelling’s transformative power. Leaders from diverse corners of Africa – from South Africa to Burkina Faso, Congo Brazzaville to Ghana, Tanzania to Liberia shared their experiences, demonstrating the unique ability of stories to bridge divides and unite us on a profound level.
“By accepting and celebrating these stories and traditions across the continent, we are acknowledging how philanthropy is happening across our communities” – Lizza Marie Kawooya, GivingTuesday Uganda
“If we achieve radical generosity, we won’t just become a better country for ourselves today; we will be teaching those who come after us that sharing ideas, knowledge, time, and even profits is equally powerful. You are never alone in what you are doing. You are stronger as a team because your story is connected to another story, and those stories are more powerful than one.” Mwenya Chitambala – GivingTuesday – South Africa.
Yet, leaders carefully thought about the important role of storytelling in shaping Africa’s story. We understood that sharing real and diverse stories can challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and inspire positive change. So, we deliberately committed to ethical storytelling based on authenticity, truth, and dignity. We know that the most effective way to achieve this is by working together with other social movements and like-minded organizations that have dedicated themselves to understanding the most effective approaches.
Over the past two years, since the establishment of the GivingTuesday Africa hub, my team and I have been dedicated to learning and supporting our network of leaders in forming connections with like-minded partners who share our vision. As we look ahead, I invite you to think about how you can be part of this journey. Stay connected by signing up for updates and exploring ways to work together.