A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa

By Howard W. French

Africa first captivated New York instances journalist Howard W. French greater than twenty-five years in the past, yet his wisdom of and keenness for the continent has the intensity of a life-time organization. His studies there woke up him as not anything prior to to the selfishness and shortsightedness of the wealthy, the pain and dignity of the negative and the makes use of and abuses of strength. And during this powerfully written, profoundly felt publication, he provides us an unstinting account of the disastrous outcomes of the fateful, centuries-old come upon among Africa and the West.

French delineates the betrayal and greed of the West–often aided and abetted via Africa’s personal leaders–that have given upward thrust to the expanding exploitation of Africa’s common assets and its humans. Coarse self-interest and outright greed as soon as generated a necessity for the continent’s rubber, cotton, gold and diamonds, let alone slaves; now the sights comprise offshore oil reserves and minerals like coltan, which powers mobile phones.

He takes us within Nigeria, Liberia, Mali and the Congo, interpreting with strange perception the legacy of colonization within the lives of latest Africans. He appears on the tragedies of the AIDS epidemic, the Ebola outbreak and the genocide that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in Rwanda and the Congo. He makes transparent the systematic failure of Western political leaders–the nurturers of tyrants reminiscent of Mobuto Sese Seko and Laurent Kabila, whose tales are informed the following in complete detail–and the brutal excesses of the CIA.

In assisting us to raised comprehend the continent, and certainly Africans themselves, French is helping us see in addition the desire and risk that lie within the myriad cultural strengths of Africa.

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Certainly, a scarce couple of minutes later, many of the retailers within the surrounding local have been shuttered. in the fraternity of Africa’s longest-serving dictators, it had turn into some extent of delight, a contest nearly, to determine who may perhaps spend the main time open air his state with out inviting a major hazard to his strength. because the demise of the founder of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, in 1993, Mobutu, who beloved to whereas away his summers at the Riviera, were the continental champion, arms down. Kinshasa is a singularly incestuous urban of 5 million humans. From the cool heights of Binza, the place the wealthy survive a similar baronial plots that the country’s Belgian masters as soon as inhabited, to the cratered streets of los angeles Cité, the place the heavy wet seasons depart puddles so deep they're dubbed Lake Mobutu, monstrous information traveled as though by way of superconductor. What used to be so unsettling this time used to be that no-one appeared to understand what was once happening, and but each person may possibly feel that whatever used to be badly fallacious. In early September the guessing online game used to be dropped at an finish via a laconic assertion issued by means of Lausanne college sanatorium in Switzerland: Mobutu Sese Seko suffered from prostate melanoma and had simply been operated on. Later that day, hoping to calm the general public, the ill president granted a quick interview to an area radio station, which was once instantly rebroadcast in Zaire. The palpable fatigue in Mobutu’s voice, just like the noncommittal solutions approximately while he may go back domestic, had the other impact, although, and note instantly circulated that the guy who had single-handedly run this kingdom because 1965 was once within the ultimate phases of a virus. slightly a month had handed considering that fifty thousand humans had marched via downtown Kinshasa difficult that Mobutu manage elections by way of might on the most recent, as he had just recently pledged, or surrender. Now, all of sudden, the country was once anguish a case of the chills. Mortality was once simply now not anything one linked to Mobutu—most Zairians had grown up with him as their chief and entirely anticipated to die with him as their chief besides. Feisty and rambunctious in general instances, Kinshasa settled into an awed and cautious quiet. Too jaded or just too terrible, so much Kinois had some time past given up procuring the ratings of skinny, poorly set newspapers that proliferated within the capital. in its place, they collected round newsstands the place proprietors laid out the preferred titles in sprawling screens, permitting humans to learn at their relaxation, frequently aloud, and with Mobutu demise, the crowds had by no means been higher. The hush even integrated the city’s politicians. As a category, those males had made careers attacking the president over the last, fairly freewheeling decade of his rule. however the capital’s politics nonetheless finally remained Mobutu’s online game, and he knew good that for many of his critics, the dissenter’s soapbox was once considered basically as a stepping-stone to a few form of profitable appointment. should you might shout loud adequate and draw sufficiently big crowds, there has been desire that Mobutu could identify you best minister.

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