The State of Africa:A History of Fifty Years of Independence

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The State of Africa:A History of Fifty Years of Independence
« em: Abril 21, 2010, 01:40:22 pm »

This impressive history of Africa is a thorough and detailed investigation of the reasons for the continent's dismal failure. Although filled with facts and figures, the work is quite accessible and readable as it charts the bitter history of 50 years of independence from its hopeful beginnings to today's total despair, in just 2 generations.

Ghana was the first African state to gain independence in 1957; it was ruined within 8 years. Today the whole continent produces less than Mexico. Upon taking power, African leaders appointed their cronies in government instead of properly trained civil servants, of which there weren't many anyway. These ruling elites indulged in corruption, oppression and bribery from the beginning.

The continent has been cursed with corrupt, incompetent and greedy leaders who never cared for their subjects. There have been at least 40 successful and many more unsuccessful coup attempts these 5 decades. The latest fashion is to hold sham elections. In oil producing countries like Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and Cameroon, all the oil money ends up in the pockets of small ruling cliques while ordinary people subsist in misery.

The chapters are arranged according to this rogue's gallery of leaders like Amin, Bokassa, Mobutu, Nyerere, Banda, Mugabe, Kaunda, Kenyatta, Mengistu, Nasser, Nguema, Nkrumah. Other reasons for the failure are also considered, for example the rapid rise in population and unfavourable trade terms with the West.

But always the pattern repeats: coup d'etat, cruelty, misery, murder, refugees and the collapse of infrastructure. No matter how much money the West throws at the problem. Africa has had the equivalent of six "Marshall Plans" but the money ends up in Swiss bank accounts. Since independence, the Nigerian elites have stolen about $350 billion.

Meredith also looks at the exceptions like Botswana, South Africa and Senegal. These countries are multiparty democracies with well-run economies. They represent some hope that Africa might one day join civilization.