The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future. Robert Guest (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/6/1
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Africa is the only continent to have grown poorer over the past three decades. Why? Robert Guest's fascinating book seeks to diagnose the sickness that continues to hobble Africa's development. Using reportage, first-hand experience and economic insight, Robert Guest takes us to the roots of the problems. Two fifths of African nations are at war, AIDS has lowered life expectancy to as young as forty and investment is almost impossible as houses that could be used as collateral do not formally belong to their owners. Most shocking of all is the evidence that the billions of dollars of aid, given to Africa has had little perceptible effect on the poor. "The Shackled Continent" offers insightful, and occasionally controversial, explanations for this state of affairs. In this magnificent and engaging book, Robert Guest provides an invigorating history and an inspired commentary on the enigma of modern Africa and this paperback edition includes a new chapter. 'I doubt whether there is a better brief introduction to the travails of modern Africa and their causes.' - Anthony Daniels, "Sunday Telegraph". 'He is a lively and observant reporter who can describe, in a breezy no-nonsense style, the horrors and miseries of Africans in the interior...The reader can learn much from this lively and outspoken book.' - Anthony Sampson, "Guardian".
"'I doubt whether there is a better brief introduction to the travails of modern Africa and their causes' Anthony Daniels, Sunday Telegraph 'He is a lively and observant reporter who can describe, in a breezy no-nonsense style, the horrors and miseries of Africans in the interior...The reader can learn much from this lively and outspoken book' Anthony Sampson, Guardian 'A provocative read' The Glasgow Herald"商品の説明をすべて表示する
This book was recommended to me by a friend who's travelled extensively in Africa and whose wife is African.
A term frequently used for Africa is "an enigma." In this book Guest looks at the historic and current reasons why Africa is so poor, and what can be done about it. It is a book about sub-saharan Africa, so the issues of Arab North Africa or of Darfur and the Sudan never come up.
Despite the serious, indeed tragic subject matter, Guest manages humor and a breezy style.
A brief sample of some things he touches on - African Socialism (the failure of) - Mugabe and the gradual destruction of Zimbabwe - Nigerian Petrodollars and Nigerian Tribalism - progress in South Africa - the fall of Zambia, from a promising position the 60's to total basket case - success in Botswana - how first world trade protectionism costs Africa twice what it gets in aid from the developed world.
He tells a funny story about an 18 hour drive with a Guinness brewery beer truck to supply bars in Cameroon. Or rather it should have taken 18 hours, but actually took five days because of horrible roads, corrupt police and third world bureaucracy. (NOTE - despite this, it's still worth it for Guinness to do business in Africa. One thing I learned when I lived in Jamaica is that breweries always manage to turn a profit!)
How does Africa leap into the 21st century? Guest offers some standard answers - eliminate the corruption, improve the infrastructure, don't give foreign aid to corrupt regimes. He points out that Africa, by borrowing contemporary technology, can leapfrog over some problems. For example, why build land phone lines when you can go straight into the cellphone era.
So, a fine book and I learned quite a bit. One example: the mid nineties genocide in Rwanda as Hutus slaughtered 800,000 Tutsi's (and any Hutus who protested). I always assumed there was emnity between the two tribes going back for centuries. Not so. They got along just fine until the Belgians arrived and took over from Germany after World War I. The Belgians literally stirred up rancor between the two tribes.
Another fine book on third world problems and how they have developed and what not to do to solve them (and a few things that work) is "The Elusive Quest for Growth." Also highly recommended.
In 2018, I will have spent 5 years traveling to all 54 Africa countries so I have a fresh perspective of the continent. Much of what he writes is still true today.
Two minor shortcomings:
1) He takes the politically correct path of blaming African leaders for most of the continent's ills. He fails to point the finger at the common African. It's an unpopular position but we can't absolve the people when there is so much dysfunction for so long. (Of course, foreigner meddling has hurt at times too, as Guest points out.)
2) Another time he takes the politically correct stance is when he says that the Tutsis and Hutus go along well prior to the Belgians.
This is the standard story.
And it may be true.
However, we just don't know.
Prior to the colonialists, there were no written records.
Because there is no record of war, historians leap to the conclusion that there was always peace.
I find this assumption dubious.
Tutsis were largely cattle owners; Hutus were largely farmers.
Look at Kenya today (or anywhere along the Sahel where the Fulani fight with the farmers).
I'm not claiming that they were often at war with each other prior to the white man, but I don't think it's wise to quickly assume that they were largely at peace either.
The bottom line is that we just don't know for sure.
I'm very skeptical about the "noble savage" storyline that the politically correct police promotes.
In conclusion, Guest has written an outstanding book about Africa that has stood the test of nearly 15 years. It's worth reading today.
Robert Guest not only describes the problems, but also discusses possible solutions, which in his opinion mainly lie in giving people opportunities to develop themselves and trade freely. A very well-written book with a lot of recognizable examples for a regular Africa traveller like myself. It's not often that I read a book like this in 1 day, but this one I did.