South Africa: Dolly Parton, Legacy and Global Philanthropy


It is too important for South Africa to ditch its research institutions. There are so many needs at this time in our history when we are faced with unemployment and inequality, but we cannot lift ourselves up without innovation, research and development.

Much to the amazement of many, The Guardian reported on 17 November that American music idol Dolly Parton had made a $1-million contribution towards Covid-19 research at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee.

The university was part of the research team that helped make the breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine that will be produced by Moderna in the US. For most South Africans, Dolly Parton is not associated with philanthropy, but other than her music, this may well be one of the most lasting legacies for which she will be remembered.

In the US and in the music industry, Parton is known for her philanthropy which includes, inter alia, a programme entitled Imagination Library, which is now operating globally and has distributed 100 million books to children from birth until they start school, the Save the Music Foundation, wildlife sanctuaries and hospitals.

In South Africa, most philanthropic funds are directed at education, but not necessarily to research. One of...

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