As the two stories of the Kianda Foundation and the Mohamedally and Maniben Rattansi Educational Trust show, philanthropy as we understand it is a defining feature of every being. It probably begins at birth, progresses through life, and blossoms at death. Indeed, many in Africa are welcomed into this earth in philanthropic ways; they live their lives either supporting or being supported by others. And at their death, philanthropy is what bids them farewell—and in some cases their death is a philanthropic source for many causes.
I am very familiar with the institutions presented in these three books, and have visited some of them in my research. It was therefore interesting to learn more about the people behind these institutions. I particularly liked Elkanah Odembo’s story: one of a young troublesome student who gets funding from the Rattansi Educational Trust and later becomes one of the crucial philanthropic leaders in the region and in Africa. The irony: he only discovers very late in life who his donors were.
Odembo and other leaders in the region who came together to establish the Kenya Community Development Foundation illustrate the power of local responses to local challenges. From an idea to a big institution, KCDF has become the foundation for development in Kenyan communities. Its story is one of transformative philanthropy, of seeking to address social justice issues. The story of the Rattansi Educational Trust is one of changing the status quo, particularly through the provision of education to all races and ethnic groups in Kenya. The Rattansi story weaves through the politics of post-independence Kenya and outlines the role philanthropy played in these events. Many of those who became senior leaders in government and civil service were once recipients of scholarships from the foundation.
There are parallels between the Rattansi Educational Trust and the Kianda Foundation. Both focus on education, and most graduates of the Kianda Foundation have gone on to become senior women leaders in government, private sector, and civil society.