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26 May 2023
Longstanding UWC Benefactor Calls for a Culture of Giving
"To give is the right thing; to give is to help and give people the opportunity to uplift and change."

These are the sage words of George Gibbs - an alumnus of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) who has never wavered in pledging financial support to the institution for almost two decades.
George Gibbs is a longstanding UWC benefactor


In the early 1960s, Gibbs enrolled as a student at UWC with plans of studying social work. It wasn't long thereafter that he got a taste of activist life on the campus. His passion for students’ rights took centre stage in the context of studying during the apartheid regime. This, however, caught the unwelcome attention of management and he was asked to leave the University a few years later. 

He was allowed to return in 1970 and successfully graduated. After finding love and getting married a year later, the philanthropist’s love affair with the University and his community work started and continued into the 1980s. It was also the period during which Gibbs became acquainted with the late Archbishop Emeritus and former UWC Chancellor, Desmond Tutu.

At the time, Gibbs was appointed as the first Corporate Social Investment Manager of colour at Mobil Oil.

"In 1989, the Archbishop’s personal assistant came to see me and told me to go to Bishop's Court. The Archbishop said to me, 'George, I have some money that I want you to manage'. We established The Equal Opportunity Foundation," says Gibbs. 

A relationship of trust developed between Gibbs and Tutu, and he was then called upon to manage funds intended to support people battling hardships and to provide schooling and university opportunities. These funds turned out to be part of Tutu’s Nobel Peace Prize money.

[WATCH] UWC launches its new Legacy Fund

The dawn of democracy brought new opportunities to contribute. In addition to the Equal Opportunity Foundation, funded by Coca-Cola alongside luminaries like Jakes Gerwel and Allan Boesak, Gibbs also served on the board of the welfare organisation, Building a Better Society (BABS). In 2009, he retired from the Absa Group as Regional Manager for Communications.

These days, you will find Gibbs in his favourite chair in his home filled with books and trinkets of his travels.

"We need to develop a culture of giving. I have not encountered sufficient people and experienced people who give. There are some, but as a community we ought to be doing far more to build, to go back to the motto (on the UWC crest) Respice Prospice - look back, look forward and build on what is worthy."
George Gibbs (far right) alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu (second right) and Prof Jakes Gerwel (middle) 
during their time as Chancellor and Rector respectively of UWC.
For more pictures from George Gibbs, scroll through the gallery below...