Friday, October 29, 2010

When many institutions release a ranking of countries, Nigeria tends to do poorly. There was the Free Press rankings from Reporters Sans Frontiers in 2009 and the Economist's Global Liveability report from March 2010 to name a few. Both of these rankings saw Nigeria listed negatively. And so, when I saw that Nigeria ranked 34 on a list of the most giving countries in the world, I was overjoyed to see a list that reflected positively on the country. The 2010 World Giving Index also made me wonder just how accurately the act of giving can be calculated especially in societies where giving is not characterized solely by writing a check or volunteering one's time. The poll raised questions about the nature of giving in African culture and whether such can ever be neatly packaged for an annual ranking.

The Generosity index saw certain African countries doing well. For instance, Sierra Leone listed at 11 and Guinea was in 18th place. While Charity Aid Foundation, the list's creator insisted that the giving of both time and money were evaluated, I could not help but wonder if African countries would have done better if even more of their cultural inclinations where taken into consideration. In Nigeria, for example, an individual that is incapable of making a financial donation might opt to pray for the needy. How could such an act of assistance, and it would indeed be considered help by many, be accounted for? Should such be accounted for at all?

World giving index graphic

I also could not help but think about the people I know who, despite their own financial limitations, fund ways to be of help to others. My own godfather was sent to the United States for an education not because he came from a rich family, but because his village decided that it would send the smartest child abroad to gain an education. The rationale behind it was that that child would use his education to benefit the entire village and bring pride to those left behind. How could such a measure of sacrifice ever be quantified?

Nevertheless, I appreciate the existence if the list as I hope it will encourage those who need such rankings, to be even more giving to those around them. Obviously, for those who giving comes naturally, a list will not compel them to do more. I only wish that people like Funmi Ibiyode who created 'Young Ladies Mentoring' to educate, engage, and empower young women can somehow get the recognition they deserve. Or the countless other nameless individuals who do the best they can with the little they have to change the world, one person at a time.

And, I could go on and on with the curious questions that this ranking in giving spurred in my head but to do so would be foolhardy. Instead, I can confidently say that while I was pleased to see a ranking where Nigeria actually did well in and while I applaud this attempt to recognize giving, once again rankings do not amount to a science. As such they cannot be exact. But, if I could, I would change that Biblical saying about the kind only receiving their reward on heaven or something like that. The kind, the giving, the generous would be the ones whose rewards were right here in earth.

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