Oprah’s Philanthropy Mis-directed?

Saw the news report in the papers this morning about Oprah Winfrey’s $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.

“Built on 52 acres, the 28-building campus resembles a luxury hotel, with state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science labs, and a library, theater and wellness center. Each girl lives in a two-bedroom suite.”

Isn’t this excessive? Do you need to “pluck” people from such abject poverty and transform them overnight by giving them a Hollywood upbringing? Winfrey said she chose “every brick tile, sheet and spoon,” because “if you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you.”

Sounds overly excessive, to say the least. At a time when, basic healthcare, education and everyday living is a challenge for many across Africa, Oprah’s attempts at philanthropy appear to grossly mis-directed.

Oprah is a smart woman no doubt, but surely she will be serving the world’s poor a lot better if she drew a leaf out of Warren Buffet and simply wrote a big check to the Gates Foundation.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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