Epub Richard Dowden Ñ Africa PDF/EPUB ¼ Ñ

After a lifetime's close observation of the continent one of the world's finest Africa correspondents has penned a landmark book on life and death in modern Africa In captivating prose Dowden spins tales of cults and commerce in Senegal and traditional spirituality in Sierra Leone analyzes the impact of oil and the internet on Nigeria and aid on Sudan and examines what has gone so badly wrong in Zimbabwe Rwanda Burundi and the Congo From the individual stories of failure and success comes a surprising portrait of a new Africa emerging an Africa that Dowden argues can only be developed by its own people Dowden's master work is an attempt to explain why Africa is the way it is and calls for a re examination of the perception of Africa as the dark continent He reveals it as a place of inspiration and tremendous humanity


10 thoughts on “Africa

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    Two and a half stars When Africa Altered States Ordinary Miracles is good it is wonderful There is a five star book hidden in here but alas too much of the book is confusing repetitive and poorly organized Largely at fault I think are over ambitious goals coupled with very poor editing As an example I’ll take Chapter 10 on Senegal God Trust and Trade It starts off splendidly with a short biography of Amadu Bamba the Sufi mystic founder of Senegal’s Mouride movement Dowden describes Mouride as “a global African trading company based on Islamic principles” Amadu Bamba “believed that prayer study and work would protect people from the corrupting and dehumanizing influence of France and French culture Among his followers he promoted the values of humility endurance and sharing” Mourides are required to pay a tithe that is used to help fellow members in trouble and the dahiras or prayer circles help brotherhood members find places to live and work “The Mouride brotherhood offers a secure bridge from rural to urban from ancient to modern The wealth it gathers from all members provides a welfare system” Since its founding in the 1920s the movement has grown to over three million members Mourides are entrepreneurial by training and their world wide network of street vendors and merchants send an estimated 15 20 million per year back to the movement’s capital in Touba Senegal’s second largest city Touba runs itself quite independently of Senegal and pays no federal taxes One Touba shopkeeper tells Dowden “If there is a problem that requires money the Marabout calls a committee and they ask everyone to contributeThey give becausepeople know the road will be fixed and the water will run again This is not like Dakar Senegal’s capital cityIt’s all one family hereThere is no corruption none Everything is transparent But yes there are thieves here sometimes We don’t cut hands off we believe in tolerance but if someone steals we form a committee to judge the person If they are guilty we beat them If it is serious we might consider taking them to a law court in another town but it’s better to just beat them”Only about a third of Senegalese are Mouride but the emphasis on hard work and order and the considerable political clout the Mourides wield seems to have had a general beneficial effect on national life Although Senegal was a French colony since the mid nineteen century it remains untouched by the violence rife in other Francophone African nations “There has never been a hint of a military coup Nor have there been bad rulersin Senegal there is justice a police force and a tax system”So far so fascinating Seven pages of exceptionally interesting first person reporting and a provocative example of how things can go very right in Africa Yes YES Tell me Go to Dakar and interview people in the government Figure out how they are doing it and why it all works But no In the middle of page seven of the Senegal chapter Dowden appears to forget what story he is telling and while still in the chapter on Senegal he spends the next twenty one pages regurgitating World Bank and UN statistics about poverty in Africa compares Africa unhelpfully with Ireland Ireland? goes on about the slums in Kinshasa and Nairobi lectures on colonial extraction economics discusses raw material pricing and lack of Africa manufacturing capability diverts to an interesting but out of place discussion of palm oil production in Nigeria being supplanted by Vietnam then he talks about Kenyan farming and “Men like Kaunda and Nyerere” Who are they? Help me out here Dowden and the negative influence of Christian missionaries Oh Finally a page later I discover that Kaunda is the president of Zambia From Zambia we leap to “socialist orientated countries like Tanzania” and their huge state run companies And another leap to Zimbabwe Then it’s off to paranoid rulers in Malawi and Sierra Leone And a strange out of context joke by a former US assistant Secretary of State coupled with a discussion of Lebanese and Asian merchants and then a move to cold war US policyAnd that was only the first ten pages of the discursion We never do get back to Senegal and Dowden ends the chapter with rape pillage and war in Sierra Leone Liberia Sudan Angola and the Congo and mentions that the Economist dubbed Africa ‘The Hopeless Continent’Clearly Senegal proves that Africa is far from hopeless but here at the halfway point in a 550 page book I nearly declared Dowden hopelessI did finish the book and I’m glad I did since there are plenty interesting little gems like his report on the Mourides but it sure wasn’t easy and the gems were buried in and still repetitive information dumps like the discursion I just described In the forward Dowden thanks his editors instead he should have exiled them to Lagos without any bribe money Philip Gwyn Jones editor at Portobello and Jonny Geller and Gordon Wise editors at Curtis Brown—shame on youModern Africa Great Africa group read