One of the reasons we prioritize democracy and governance as one of our three pillars at TrustAfrica is the ongoing need to consolidate the gains of democracy on the continent. The last few years have witnessed a resurgence in coup d’états which had receded on the African landscape. Mali saw two coups in quick succession (2020 and 2021), before Guinea’s President Alpha Condé was deposed by the army earlier this month. In this moment in history, we are deeply concerned by the destabilization caused by these unconstitutional changes of government, the backseat approach adopted by our regional governance architecture and what these intimate about the growing role of militaries in our democracies. We are also asking what the key ingredients are to consolidate and stabilize the pan-African democratic project.
Our programs Director, Briggs Bomba moderated a session at the 7th East African Philanthropy Conference on 8 September 2021, in an exciting session which had a strong clarion call for big business, philanthropy, and Pan-Africans at large to move “beyond our egos, logos & silos to converge for impact in Africa!” This was the call made by Arif Neky, Senior Advisor for UN Strategic Partnerships and Coordinator of the SDG Partnership Platform (SDGPP) as part of the Ensuring Relevance Session under the theme: “Stretching the Band, Failing Forward for Philanthropy to SOAR.” The calls for philanthropy to assume the lead beyond emergencies and towards social development given its catalytic capability was echoed throughout the three-day Conference. The energy around private sector finding its advocacy role through philanthropy was electric and indicative of the possibilities for more coherent African-financed development and accountability.
Ebrima Sall, Executive Director, TrustAfrica
The specter of unconstitutional takeover of power seems to be haunting Africa again. In the past 18 months or so, there have been four military coups (one in Sudan, two in Mali and one in Guinea), the killing of a sitting head of state in a battle against armed rebels (in Chad), and an attempt to overthrow the transition government in Sudan. The military takeovers in Sudan and Mali followed long periods of mass protests, a little bit like what happened in Egypt ten years ago. But military takeovers are just that: the military being in control of the state, invariably translating into restrictions of basic freedoms and possibilities of democratic expression.
The political crises in Libya and Central African Republic are far from being resolved. In several other countries, the heads of state have amended the constitutions so as to be able to run for a third or fourth term of office, a practice that has also been called a form of coup d’Etat.
TrustAfrica, in conjunction with UNESCO and CODESRIA, has successfully organized a Training Workshop on Future Literacies in Africa. The workshop, held in Bamako, Mali, on 1 and 2 October 2021, was mainly to prepare young people from the continent to better understand the present and anticipate the future. Participants were drawn from ten African countries. The young people who participated in this training said they were ready to apply the knowledge acquired and share it with their colleagues who were not present at the meeting. Meanwhile, the three organizations, who collaborated to organize the training workshop, have reiterated their willingness to continue to support young Africans in the struggle for the emergence of a peaceful, just and egalitarian continent where individual and collective freedoms are respected.
The work of the High-Level Stakeholders Forum on African Humanities got off to a good start on 28 September 2021 with the interventions of eminent academics and researchers. Nearly 70 participants composed of researchers, teachers, intellectuals, academics, students and decision-makers, from the 5 regions of Africa and its diaspora were in Bamako to discuss the future of African Humanities and African languages in the struggle for the emancipation and development of the continent. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Dr. Ebrima Sall, Executive Director of TrustAfrica, expressed his appreciation to all the partners and highlighted the pan-Africanist character of TrustAfrica and its commitment to freedom, democracy, equity and peace. Dr. Sall also hosted a conference on the theme: Eurocentrism and Domination of the Humanities which was well received by the participants.
The TrustAfrica Shaping the Future Fellowship was launched in August 2021, with the first Senior fellow joining ranks with a focus on African Philanthropy and an incoming fellow scheduled for October 2021 focusing on anticipatory governance and innovation, Africa’s development and the future of work. The Fellowship is focused on reflections on key themes related to the future we want for Africa and is structured into three categories depending on the duration, as follows:
- 3 months – TrustAfrica provides a small grant; with the expectation of a brief write up sharing key insights on the particular area of reflection.
- 6 months – TrustAfrica provides a medium-sized grant; with the expectation of a more elaborate write up sharing key insights on the particular area of reflection.
- 12 months – TrustAfrica provides a substantive grant; with the expectation of in–depth research and write-up on the particular area, including the possibility of a book.
All Fellowships are part time with an expectation of a reflection and/or knowledge product at the end of the fellowship. Watch this space for more information on TrustAfrica Shaping the Future Fellowship openings.
By Tendisai Chigwedere
Being a learning manager at TrustAfrica, I basically get involved in everything we do. One of my latest assignments was to participate in the Stop the Bleeding Campaign Strategic Retreat earlier this month. Six years after launching the STB Consortium members met to take stock of impact, lessons learned and the direction of the campaign going forward. What an exciting process. In our last newsletter we shared about our approach of collaboration for collective impact and cited the STB campaign as a flagship experience of this. In various settings where I represent TrustAfrica I’ve heard the STB campaign referenced as a solid example of collective impact where African-led institutions take the lead on an issue before any funding comes in to shape the narrative from a Pan-African perspective because of an inherent belief in its critical importance to the continent. For us at TrustAfrica, this strategic review retreat was important on multiple levels.
TrustAfrica and their partner Solidaridad West Africa launched the "Reclaim Sustainability! Programme" project on the 30th of July 2021 in Accra, Ghana, to promote inclusive and sustainable supply chains. The theme of the launch was promoting inclusive and sustainable supply chains in Ghana. The launch was a successful event widely reported by various media platforms, including newspapers , television stations, and radio, and was live-streamed on our social media platforms.
Written by Tendisai Chigwedere, Learning Manager
While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the globe, it’s also illuminated some fundamental truths that our societies need to: learn from - embrace - and amplify. The aid narrative around communities on our continent has underestimated and even undermined the inherent capacities of these very same to develop the solutions to the challenges they face. This challenging season we find ourselves in has highlighted the stories of community solutions that have existed for years and often gone unacknowledged.
At TrustAfrica we are privileged to focus on supporting, promoting, and advancing African agency through African actors to respond to the most pressing challenges facing our communities. And for us this has meant solidarity with the communities most affected by these challenges and learning from their paths in responding to these to inform how best we can accompany processes underway. In this sense, we’ve always considered ourselves catalytic partners – from thinking through the big questions with civil society leaders, community leaders, activists, academics, and progressive public sector actors; to channeling catalytic resources to solutions developed by communities affected by issues ranging from illicit financial flows, mining affected communities, participation of smallholder farmers in agricultural policy, pro-democracy social movements and more.
And in all these processes, our definition of catalytic goes beyond simply giving of resources and voice to communities.
Because voice is not something that can be given – it needs space to be heard, and agency needs space to be demonstrated.
Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the Cambridge Judge Business School based at the University of Cambridge will host a seminar titled #ShiftThePower – Revolutionising Transparency in the Third Sector: Driving Better Decisions, Legitimacy and Goodwill on the 7th of October 2021 from 11:00 – 12:30 BST). This is part of an online series deconstructing the components of imbalanced power structures between Global North and Global South philanthropy actors, better understanding how change can come about and enabling philanthropy practitioners to define the nature of the change required for the long-term institutionalisation of COVID-19-induced changes in best practice. The first two session recordings are available here. The registration link for the event can be found here.