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Philanthropy institute honours community builders

community builders:with Takemore Mazuruse

The International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP), an institute of excellence, integrity and philanthropy, on Monday conferred Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) degrees to the first five of the chosen 10 to be accorded this honour by the institute this year.

The conferment — which is in partnership with the International Women’s University and Maverick University — was organised by the local arm of IIP, the Institute of Philanthropy Zimbabwe, saw respected businesspeople and luminaries, among them businessman and media mogul James Makamba, Theresa Nyajeka of Zuva Petroleum, Wezhaz Investments CEO Exevia Maoneke and Jospeh Kaseke of Strike Security being honoured for their contribution to humanity through business and community development service.

Speaking to Standard Style, Makamba, one of the honorary degrees recipients, commended IIP for the work that it is doing in honouring role models in philanthropy as a way of instilling the right values in today’s generation.

“What the institute is doing is credible and commendable. Yes, we can be hardworking and growing in business, but what we don’t have as black people all over the world, be it in Africa or America, are role models. We have a few role models, we need many role models and this recognition falls into that category where more role models are being represented,” Makamba said.

“We need such developments where young people can celebrate, emulate and find out how they distinguish themselves in Africa as taken from those that would have led the way through service to others.”

On the general attitude and recognition for philanthropy in Zimbabwe, Makamba described philanthropy as a cultural responsibility in Zimbabwe but it needed more formalisation and he was really honoured to be recognised for his efforts.

“Philanthropy is celebrated especially in our culture, but it’s just seen as a cultural responsibility like looking after your brother’s family when he dies or sending your auntie’s kid to school, all that is philanthropy,” he said.

“It’s just the formalisation and terms used that differ. I actually feel philanthropy is an honour and anytime you go out of the way to help somebody, be it a relative, a stranger or an institution, should be regarded as an honour. I am therefore grateful to the International Institute of Philanthropy for honouring me and fellow philanthropists in this manner.”

Makamba’s sentiments were echoed by Wezhaz Investments CEO Maoneke who emphasised the importance of sharing the little we have with the less privileged in society.

“It is important to work hard, self-actualise and live the life of our dreams, but even more important is the need to spare a thought for the less privileged.

Very few appreciate the fact that we are blessed for others and the sooner we realise that the better,” Maoneke said.

“We must embrace the culture of giving and we want to thank the IIP for celebrating a virtue that really defines humanity; the ability to remember others even when we are living in plenty.”

Maoneke has over the years continued to plough back from his Wezhaz Investments which boasts of interests in car sales, entertainment, real estate and commodity broking.

The local representative of IIP Enrico Maverick, who presided over the conferment, said the honour was a way of thanking philanthropists and community builders for their contribution to humanity.

“This Doctor of Humane Letters degree is not a qualification, but for honour. It is attained through the story of your life, be it religious work, social work or even politics,” Maverick said.

“The mission of the IIP is to develop more effective and sustainable philanthropy that impacts communities in a better way. For us the honour we are bestowing on these luminaries is informed by the thought behind it. Our intentions are to nurture and foster philanthropy worldwide.”

Maverick also spoke on the importance of celebrating the living and alluded to the life of the departed national hero Oliver Mtukudzi, a past recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

“A few weeks before the late Dr Mtukudzi, who we also honoured with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, passed on, we spent some time together and shared a meal and I intimated to him that if he was to die, I would not be obliged to go to his funeral because I had done and given all that I felt he deserved in his lifetime,” he said.

“A month or so afterwards, he passed on and many asked why I was not at the funeral given how close we were, but my answer was that as an individual and as the Institute of Philanthropy Zimbabwe we had given the man the honour that he deserved during his lifetime.”

According to Maverick, IIP is an institute of excellence, integrity and philanthropy solely dedicated to the advancement of humanity through philanthropy, increasing awareness and understanding of philanthropy, improving its practice and enhancing participation through public service, education, research, fundraising and management of non-profits while simultaneously acknowledging, celebrating and honouring philanthropists.

It is the first institute in the world to exclusively and authoritatively bestow upon philanthropists and humanitarian practitioners the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (DHL) and accord its doctorate degree holders full rights, obligations, benefits, stature and full titles of the title Doctor, (Dr) Doctor of Humane Letters honoris, causa as opposed to other institutions and entities.

“The institute believes that the practice of philanthropy can never be attained academically and at any juncture as such this positive approach is wholly justified as philanthropists and humanitarian practitioners or individuals who practice philanthropy are born and live a life of practicing philanthropy,” Maverick said.

“This invariably means that the only form of recognition, respect and honour that can truly reflect their intellectual, philanthropic practical expertise, gesture of acknowledgement and qualification, can only be attained through the conferment and attainment of the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.”

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