Focussing on the key personalities, events and themes of Africa's independence era, Martin Meredith's magisterial history seeks to explore and explain the myriad problems that Africa has faced in the past half century and faces still.
From the giddy enthusiasms of the 1960s to 'the coming of tyrants' and rapid decline, The State of Africa is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how it came to this, and what, if anything, can be done.
Africa is the shame of the West. Over the last 150 years we have explored, exploited and then abandoned Africa. Africa, a continent that is rich in oil, minerals, has abundant fresh water, rich soil and a temperate climate. A continent that should be rich and peaceful. A continent that should be the envy of the world.
But it's not.
This book covers the 50 years of independence, where former colonies stumbled uncertainly into the excitement of the second half of the twentieth century and into independence and democracy. As the states of Africa, one by one, embraced their future, the dream of a rich tomorrow crumbled into the dust of corruption, exploitation and ultimately failure. A failure that is marked by the rampant HIV/AIDS epidemic, the environmental degradation of Lake Victoria, the collapse of Zimbabwe and the genocids in Darfur.
So what went wrong? How did Africa fail so dismally? In an accurately researched and well written account of the last 50 years Martin Meredith takes us on a journey from state to state. We learn about the corrupt leaders, the tribal warfare and the growing distrust of the African leaders. And we are shown in stark clarity the self serving interference of the Chinese, the Soviet Union and the USA. The interference that counted for nothing the millions of innocent people that have watched in bewilderment and frustration as their world is destroyed around them.
This book is well written, and a valuable resource for anyone interested in Africa. At times the content is sketchy, but the subject is too big for a single volume.
Random listing from 'Books'...
Young Billy Bowman and his mate Jack get caught up in the excitement when war is declared in August 1914 and leave their jobs on the farm to rush off and enlist in the Mounted Rifles - because the war would 'probably be over by Christmas'.
We follow their journey from the Awapuni training camp, to more training in the sands of Egypt before they finally get shipped out - without their horses - to fight at Gallipoli. And there they discover that war isn't the big adventure they thought it would be.
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W. Heath Robinson (1872 - 1944)