What Does Fundraising in the African Diaspora Have to Do With 27 Dresses and Rugby Sevens?

First up, the site is going through some changes in design and I am also adding and subtracting some stuff, so please bear with me.

This process will only last a few days and then it’ll be business as usual.In the meantime please give me feedback on whether its easier to read, what looks good, hideous etc etc

And yes, I have a funny accent and no I can’t explain what it is and where it came from, it’s just me and I rather like it!

White Kenyan supporters during Sevens

Three events: Distant in chronology, but far from it in psychology. To another man, random events that have no bearing on each other. To me, they conspired together to bring about the writing of this article. The events are:

1. The Rugby Sevens that were held in Adelaide a few weeks ago.

2. A few weeks before the Rugby Sevens there was a fund raiser to raise money for people affected by the post election violence in Kenya. Finally;

3. I watched the movie 27 Dresses

A Brief Digression

Here’s what I don’t get about 27 dresses and hell, what I don’t get about romantic comedies all the way from the Cary Grant days.

Why is it that the a****le always gets the girl in the end?

James Marsden’s character, as likable as he was, was a far cry from Edward Burns character on sooo many levels and yet the spoils went to John’s character.

In addition to that, what is with the whole, ” the kiss didn’t feel the way it should,” thing?!

Yes, once upon a time, I used it as a line (not very well, but I did alright), but I simply do not understand. Maybe you were self conscious about your breath that moment or the guy had a cold and was breathing through his mouth or whatever could go wrong?

Really?! You will change your whole destiny because your game of tonsil-hockey wasn’t good on one particular day…hmmmm. Digression over!

Katherine of 27 Dresses

So I Got to Thinking, Why?

Why is it that thousands upon thousands of people got in their cars, their planes (not their planes, commercial planes but…oh you get what I’m trying to say) and on each others backs from all over Australia? Some even came from the land up over as far as I can tell. And they all congregated on the little city of Adelaide to watch men in really tiny apparel go to war with each other. Why?

Why was Katherine Heigl’s character so obsessed with the wedding event? Why are millions of women, and the token male, so obsessed with their weddings and willing to invest so much of themselves and their resources into it? (Some even more than into the marriage)

Why were there only 50 people who showed up to raise money though the fundraiser was held in the midst of the violence and in a prime central locatin?

My Pedestrian Opinion on What Went Wrong with the Fund-raiser and Some Ways to Fix It

This problem doesn’t apply to just the fundraiser. Here in Melbourne, it has applied to a few projects and events that have been organized for a greater good. I don’t know about other people’s experiences in other countries but I am sure you have had your fare share of bum starters.

So why do women put so much into their special day (heck they even call it their special day) and why do so many people invest so much time, money and energy to making the Rugby pilgrimage (they even call it that)?

But Mwangi, It’s Rugby/ It’s My Wedding!

I think the first key component behind these two events is that they are both tied into traditions.

Tradition: A time-honored practice or set of such practices

The sport of rugby predated the Rugby Sevens. It was enjoyed before they set up the bleachers in Adelaide. People fought each other over their favourite teams long before the Seven’s tickets were printed.

In addition to that, Kenya was a country with a national identity and one people with a shared struggle (Don’t let the violence fool you. A lot of the people who were killing each other share a lot more in common with each other than with the politicians) before the Sevens. Kenya had a national team that Kenyans were behind long before a few weeks ago. Samoa had their team before the Sevens and the All Blacks owned ALL teams as soon as the first Maori child was born in New Zealand ;)

Monkey Rugby

Same thing about weddings. Ever since Little Kimani (that’s a boy) woke up one morning a long time ago and realized that for some weird reason Chebet (that’s a girl) made him very happy, and they both realized that as much as they drive each other nuts they can’t live without each other, there have been ceremonies where a man and a woman get together for life. So weddings have traditions across cultures that have gone on for thousands of years.

The fundraiser might have fared better if it played to that. Perhaps the fundraiser could have been moved to the Rugby Sevens and become a part of that. Perhaps we could have made it a part of some of the annual parties and celebrations that Africans often hold. This to me seems like a great way to leverage what’s already there.

Self Interest

I think that Richard Dawkins and a lot of my marketing teachers weren’t wrong. Speak to people’s selfish interests and cater to them and you have them hooked. My favourite people have always given me something that I wanted or needed even if it was to make me feel like I was a good person or a responsible person and as you reflect you’ll probably find the same is true for you too.

So with that in mind, they should have treated the fundraiser like a marketing project with the desired outcome being to raise funds ala World Vision and aid agencies.

Do It Because It’s the Right Thing to Do

A lot of the time, many of us (myself included) fall into this trap of assuming that people should do things and will do them because they are the right thing to do. I think binge drinking, the rate of smoking, childhood obesity, war and the general tendency a lot of us have for self-destruction should be a pretty clear indication that this isn’t the case.

I think a good place to begin from is that:

Controversy Get’s Courted

1) We are all idiots

2) We are all selfish

3) No one likes you and no one will want to attend your stupid event

And overcompensate for this by guiding people along to the event in a manner that caters to their wants and desires.

Some Ways to Go About This

We should have appealed to people’s desire to feel like good people. We should have catered to their desire to party by making this the most fun they would have had this side of the moon. We should have had open barbecues and free meat. We should have invited guest artists over from Africa who we know people would have loved to see. We could have invited a famous pastor from overseas among other ways to satisfy what people want and need.

Get Professional Help

I think we should have gotten professional help. There are people who base their entire lives and entire careers around making people attend events -event organizers, party planners, club promoters etc. We should have either hired them to get more butts in the seats and/or gotten them to consult on how to make the event a roaring, smashing success.

African dance

If you are thinking to yourself:

But that’s too expensive or too time consuming?

Then that is definitely a clear indication that you should get professional assistance because you are clearly not passionate about the project. Hand it over to people who have a passion for it or for the process of getting people to attend events.

Another Digression

We were supposed to have heard a great band but you know what happened? They canceled last minute because they got a paying gig elsewhere. This just broke my heart man……

Leverage not Just Traditions but What People Already Do

That night, very little money was raised. We had a great location. We had people who were obviously dedicated and cared. However the day before a meeting in smaller meeting place, my mother’s church, was convened and they managed to raise a lot more money.

Can you imagine if every night club that Africans go to, every house party that people attend, every bible study, every church people were reminded of the suffering of their brethren and asked to give as much as they could?

I know a lot more would have been raised if we had taken advantage of events and places where we already gather to raise money.

To Conclude

I have no doubt that people’s hearts and people’s intentions were in the right place when they organized the fundraiser. That having been said, the event fell far short of what it could have been. This rather than being a failure in my eyes is simply a time for us to stop, reflect, figure out what we didn’t do or did wrong, change that and correct course. Then we can march on to much better events and a much stronger and more supportive community in the African diaspora.

My 2 cents conclude here so please give me my change, leave me a lovely comment telling me about your ideas on African events in the diaspora and subscribe to the RSS feed or sign up for email updates if this article got you thinking.

Be blessed and bless others,


No Comments

  • By gal africana, April 25, 2008 @ 5:46 am

    Whoosh! that was quite a vent. Have to agree on your way of doing things though…assume the worst then compensate for it…it’s a win win :-)

    Watched 27 dresses and didn’t quite like it..but DOES she end up with the a******? I remember him being a musician…why did I even bother watching it to the end?

    Wewe…please don’t trivialize the tonsil-hockey. Veeeeeery important stuff that. Just is.

    The weddings and the funny ball sport, I’m no fan of…so I hear you there…but I understand the passion people have for those things…different folks, different strokes.

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 5:53 am

    @gal: Can you really compare the cranky, wounded secretly romantic dude that was James to Eddy who had his stuff together and was an all round great guy.
    You see, that’s the reaction I have never understood. To women, you would think tonsil hockey is a marriage proposal the weight some women put on it…..WOW!
    How could you at least not have had a fascination with the rugby even in high school? I hope you don’t go saying that in Kenyan functions, it competes with “I don’t eat meat” as one of those statements likely to get one lynched.

  • By gal africana, April 25, 2008 @ 6:10 am

    Y’know what? I’ll call it tonsil-hockey from now on…Look, here’s some very good, well meaning advice, ahem…LEARN TO BE A MASTER OF THAT HOCKEY GAME; IT MATTERS. Have you watched HITCH?

    No I fancied the Eddy character quite a bit, but he lost alot of points with me when he chose the long legged empty brained blonde sister. We are actually discussing a romantic comedy?!! LMAO.

    Nope…not a rugby fan…never been. Never watched a game…been to plenty of games for the “socialness” of it but never actually managed to watch more that 4 consecutive minutes.

    I started doing “Lynch-worthy” stuff at the prime age of 6…have learnt to roll with the punches/flames :-)

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 6:21 am

    @Gal: You know on the scale of meaningless discussions that can be had in a day we are not too bad.
    You know I am actually thinking of writing a future post about the advantages of being thought of as a crazy person by your peers.
    What do you think of the background now, less stark? I feel like I’m in an episode of Queer Eye for the Blogger’s Eye or something…..
    As for tonsil hockey, think of the romance you will bring to a moment when at the height of attraction you look someone deep in the eye while Malaika plays in the background and say, “Would you like to indulge me in a game of tonsil hockey?” ;)

  • By seinlife, April 25, 2008 @ 7:38 am

    Just a thought – i think the crisis that kenya faced tapped a lot out of the diaspora as everyone was simultaneously raising funds so perhaps looking beyond the diaspora might have boosted you a little? Otherwise i really believe 90% of the people in this world are generous giving folks..

    haven’t seen 27 dresses yet…..will be waiting till its out on dvd

    i still don’t understand our affinity for rugby – maybe it’s a bonding thing? dunno

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 7:47 am

    @seinlife: What do you mean by “looking beyond the diaspora”? I think most people are good when given a chance to be too.
    Rugby can be a beautiful sport depending on the context from which you watch it. I am far from a die-hard fan but I fell in love with it when in Form 1, one of our classmates went to battle against the Form 4 team (they were all huge guys and he was just a tiny Form 1) and emerged victorious. A story worthy of its own post me thinks

  • By seinlife, April 25, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

    @mwangi – my point was that perhaps when we do fund raisers in the diaspora we should target not just africans and/ african functions but should look to solicit outside of our diaspora community….

    that fella must have been quite the player..yikes!

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

    @seinlife: This actually saddened a lot of us: during the fund-raiser in question, 25 of the people who attended were African and the rest were all foreigners and in truth it was pretty clear that the foreigners seemed to care a lot more than so many Africans who were told about the event but decided not to show up. The DJ for the event couldn’t help but express his disgust because for a while the majority was foreigners in a supposedly African fund-raiser.

    The day that he took on those Form 4s is one of those days that’s permanently etched in my mind.

  • By Caustic Blonde, April 25, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

    Your take on the fund raiser and how to do it better were on spot, very interesting read.

    Now for this comment:

    Why is it that the a****le always gets the girl in the end?

    Because this is true to what happens in real life? Don’t ask me for reasons because there are many and only so many hours in the day. I do touch on this subject in my blog.
    I am so glad you brought up about (some)women investing more time and interest in the wedding than they do the actual marriage. It seems to me, some women think about the perfect wedding too much and some men think about the perfect marriage/wife in excess. I hope (DV) to write an article about this in the future.

    I like the new look of your blog, I like this background better than what you had earlier today as I was having a difficult time reading some of the comments. :)

  • By gal africana, April 25, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

    There are advantages to people thinking one is crazy? hmmm…post away.

    Thats the exact sentence I had in mind! I might be more a fan of comedy than romance, more than I thought anyway lol

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

    @Caustic: If you want to do an in depth post on the whole a*****e issue or the marriage/wedding investment, please do so and I will gladly chime in. I think we all are aware of at least some of the reasons but it never stops us from wanting to discuss it and remind ourselves because it’s absolutely amazing.
    Thanks for the kind words about the design. I think as long as everyone can read against this background I will keep this background for a long time to come.

  • By Mwangi, April 25, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    @gal: Don’t tempt me, otherwise I may come out of this strait jacket and become a freedom fighter for the crazy members of society….Don’t be surprised to see that post in the future.

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