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A report from the Bellagio Initiative: In 2011, over a period of six months, a number of leading figures came together in an ambitious exploration of the major challenges to and opportunities for protecting and promoting human wellbeing in the twenty-first century. A diverse group of policymakers, academics, opinion leaders, social entrepreneurs, activists, donors and practitioners from over 30 countries took part in a series of deliberations collectively called the 'Bellagio Initiative'. Its aim: to generate discussions and stimulate innovative thinking on how philanthropies and international development organisations might find ways to move forward together to better protect and promote human wellbeing in the twenty-first century.
This is a discussion of philanthropy in Africa in its many manifestations and how it seeks to address the promotion of wellbeing. Philanthropy and development are not new phenomena in Africa. Neither are they divorced from the questions of human wellbeing. For its part, philanthropy is intrinsically embedded in the life cycle of birth, life and death of many, if not all Africans. At any one given time, one is either a philanthropist or a recipient of one kind or another of benevolence. Though not a common or even user-friendly concept in Africa, philanthropy is a phenomenon perhaps best captured by the notions of 'solidarity and reciprocity' among Africans and some of the features that accompany relational building. As a result, therefore, culture and relation-building are central attributes in defining what philanthropy in the African context looks like.
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