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Three Takeaways from Lil Jon’s African Philanthropy

If you logged into any social media accounts over the weekend, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard Atlanta rapper Lil’ Jon has built a kindergarten in Ghana, West Africa. And if you’re like me, you probably had one of three reactions:

What!
Okaaaaay!
Yeaaaaah!

Dave Chappelle has trained us well.

In all seriousness, I was glad to see Lil Jon join 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Akon as household hip-hop names who have made valuable investments in our motherland.

The school is named Abomayaw D.A. Kindergarten. It is dedicated to Lil Jon’s late mother, Carrie Smith, and the Abomayaw Community. Located in eastern Ghana, many of the community’s children were getting sick or missing school because they held classes outdoors. That’s nice during good weather, but like all other tropical countries, Ghana has a rainy season that lasts for months.

They made do with sheds during the bad weather, but now these little ones have a three-classroom building where they can begin their educational journey, come rain or shine. Thanks to a dude with dreadlocks, diamond fangs and a pimp cup. You never can tell where your blessings might come from!
Here are a few more lessons we can take away from this story.

  1. Pimp Juice is a Stage Presence, Not a Way of Life.

In spite of his party persona, Lil Jon is a husband, father and businessman – he didn’t blow his earnings like some other celebrities, but has enjoyed a long career as a performer and producer, which enabled him to become a philanthropist. His son praised him on social media for using his platform to make a difference. He is a great example to share with young people who may confuse a rapper’s wild onstage presence for a desirable way to live.

  1. There is Power in Partnership.

Lil Jon didn’t show up in Africa one day and make it rain on a random village. He partnered with a nonprofit called Pencils of Promise, which has experience building schools in several developing countries. On a smaller level, we can identify organizations that can use our skills, so that we too can give back (or pay it forward) without having to carry the world on our shoulders.

  1. Charity (Still) Begins at Home.

Before Lil Jon built a school all the way in Ghana, he used his 2011 appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice” to funnel $80,000 to the United Methodist Children’s Home in his birthplace, Atlanta. I’m highly in favor of us building internationally with our brothers and sisters in Africa and throughout the African diaspora. But until we can reach that far, there are plenty of needs right in our own backyard, okaaaaaay?

Deidre R. Gantt is the former Associate Editor of Face2Face Africa. Prior to that, she served the Greater New Orleans community as a Program Associate with Foundation for Louisiana, where she managed leadership programs, grant opportunities and communications support to drive civic engagement and policy change. Her communications background includes a lengthy freelance career as a writer and editor, grant writer, and college writing instructor. Between 2007 and 2010, Deidre covered the rebirth of the cultural arts community in her hometown, Washington, DC, for the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative. Her professional writing career began in the 1990s as a contributing editor for Rolling Out urban style weekly. Deidre is also an accomplished poet and performer who has appeared on stages throughout the United States as well as in Tanzania and Ghana. Deidre holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Emerson College and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Southern California.

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