Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shackled Continent







Somehow incomplete

If you, like me, have an Africa-obsession then this book is for you. It will make you wonder if there is any hope for a continent of people so good at tolerating poor (and sometimes appalling leadership), so divided, and so intent upon blaming the West (or, as Robert Guest puts it, "Whitey") for African problems. It will remind you of what Europe once was, and help you believe that Africa could someday improve. After finishing it you may, like me, want to retreat into an entirely different world. For me that is Anne of Green Gables (approximately the 11th reading), where the only murders are those Anne imagines.

Despite the excellent information and analysis Shackled Continent provides, it remains somehow incomplete. Why? Having tasted something of the reality of Africa, I feel like you can't transfer that through a book about wars and really bad roads and angry leaders and poor, sick people. My experience is very limited. South Africa has very good roads and no wars. Some people even argue that it is not "Africa" because of the many differences between it and other countries on the continent. Still, I didn't find beauty and joy in this book and I was looking for it.

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