April 25 , 2011


Black American Philanthropy in Africa


Africare is a US-based non-profit organization specializing in development aid for Africa. It is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in the development field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $710 million in assistance through over 2,500 projects to thirty-six African countries. The organization employs over 1,000 people, largely indigenous to the countries affected.

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This is a study in leadership and competing African and American black interests. Africare has sought to become the leading voice speaking on Africa within the US, a goal more difficult to attain than becoming the premier NGO in Africa. Sources of opinion and channels of expression about American policy in Africa are fragmented. They do not have name recognition or influential sponsors. There is poor coverage of African affairs in the US, except for key, often tragic, events. Africare has a heritage and has filled a niche in American society. Penelope Campbell argues that unless the organization reclaims these unique assets, it may lose the distinctiveness enabling its survival.

The challenge for Africare is spreading its story and message. The author raises disturbing fundamental issues. Has foreign aid become such an industry that the patient is not allowed to get well? As the military cannot afford peace, it seems the world cannot afford the cessation of poverty. Campbell argues that success in Africa has been elusive not because of the failures of development organizations, but the magnitude of the issues involved. The author presents a convincing case for aid to Africa, the pitfalls involved, and for Africare’s potential as a leader in meeting the continent’s needs.

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