Transcript of endnote address by Coumba Toure
September 9, 2023

“Thank you so much, Ibrahima for such a generous and challenging introduction. I will say first (speaks French). Because we are in Senegal, I am greeting each of you in your own name. I like that greeting because really what it does is to say that I greet each of you as an individual so in your own name, because I know yes, you are part of institutions and yes, you work somewhere. But you come here first as a human being, and you come here as someone who believes in something, so I greet you in your own right first. In the family name, we greet people and for some of you who have been here in Senegal for a while, I am sure you have seen people greet each other and repeat the family name. You know, mine is Toure and the other one is Sall, and I will say Sall, and he says Toure repeatedly.


For me, this is a call. We should look at our portfolios to see where money is going and understand that investing in making sure that children are not only well-fed and have good health but have the capital of love that will allow them to be fully human, is something that I have to name. Again, keeping on my subjectivity, I have to speak about the art. Yes, it might look like something on the side and the margins. It might look like it is not urgent like it is not water. But the truth is that the biggest thirst and the biggest lack that we have today is about humanity in being human. And to me, that is what art cultivates. We need in leadership, government, and at the head of our philanthropies, people who have the sensitivity to hear and see, even when it is not literal, and not said directly.


Secondly, I want to thank my sister, Natalia Kanem. As she spoke, I sat there and I was just like, is there a place where we say, I second this? Is there a place where I can say yes because every single thing she named and spoke about is something that I believe in? I know that although it is uncomfortable for some of us, deep inside, we know that we cannot do things halfway. There is no half-justice, a human being is a human being. Being a feminist is nothing more than just the radical notion of considering that women, poor people, and people with different sexual orientations, deserve just as much as any rich white man living in Europe or America, to have mobility, to move as she wants to have ownership of her body, and to have the opportunity to bring to the world, what we know, what we think, and what we feel.


I do not want to stand between you, and food. I have many things that I would want to advocate for, but I leave you with questions. What will we do now that is different from what we used to do? I would like to give each of you a minute. You do not have to say it in the mic but take the time to write it down. Is there something that you think you might be able to do differently or to push to be done differently in the institution that you come from so that we come together to the type of philanthropy that we have been talking about? We know there are many things and many areas of philanthropy. But what we are talking about is revolutionary and transformative. It turns the world upside down, it speaks truth to power, it supports, even those we do not always see sitting with us.


I have so many stories of invisible philanthropy. We could spend the night here, but I will only share one today. One of the programs that I have been doing for the past 12 years is called ‘Invisible Giants’. The idea behind it is to celebrate women who do things in their communities, even when no one knows them. In the past month, we celebrated four women in the village and can tell you that there is a rampant and invisible philanthropy going on holding our societies that is completely under the radar. CAPSI, I believe we have a study there. I met a woman who sold her house to build an education centre in the Indayan Village, you can come and see it one day. Now when I say she sold her house, you have to go into the house that she lives in right now, to understand the meaning of what it is for this woman to sell her house to build that education centre for the children. I have also met a woman who, if you go to Papua Guinea, you will see a little shack on the side of the road where she sells breakfast, peanuts, and more.


When we did research and asked about the invisible giants in that community, people pointed us to her and told us that because she is at that corner that people use to go to the health centre that is run by the nuns, where most of the people who go there, do not have money and do not go to the hospital because the ticket at the hospital is too expensive. So many people going to that health centre, do not have transport back home or cannot buy their medicine. This is the main foundation that deals with that problem in that area. But you have to see the place from which she is selling things, the amount of money she has, and where she lives, to be able to measure what we receive as information in terms of the philanthropy she does. I think we have a subject.


The Lebou people in the same village tell me that every first Wednesday of the month, all of the people who live off fishing and have individual boats, and family boats, sell their fish and use the money to improve their community. These things are happening. Nobody funds them, no one puts a regulation about who is managing the money and where it is going. Everyone in the village knows exactly when and where the money should be spent. We have worked to unearth the potential of our people in giving, giving with dignity, giving without logo giving without taking pictures, giving without belittling the person we are giving to, giving to the point where when you give you hide because the wall of word for chance, is a practice. You get up and you go to the cemetery early in the morning and whatever you find there is your chance with the people who give. Go at night and put it down so that nobody knows who put it there. Thank you.”