Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

by Richard Dowden


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586488161
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 03/09/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 812,778
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Richard Dowden is director of the Royal African Society. He spent a decade as Africa Editor of the Independent, and then another decade as Africa Editor of the Economist. He has made three television documentaries on Africa, for the BBC and Channel 4.

Table of Contents

Map vi

Acknowledgements xi

Foreword Chinua Achebe xiii

1 Africa is a night flight away: Images and realities 1

2 Africa is different: Uganda I 11

3 How it all went wrong: Uganda II 38

4 The end of colonialism: New states, old societies 51

5 Amazing, but is it Africa? Somalia 90

6 Forward to the past: Zimbabwe 127

7 Breaking apart: Sudan 158

8 A tick bigger than the dog: Angola 199

9 Missing the story and the sequel: Burundi and Rwanda 223

10 God, trust and trade: Senegal 255

11 Dancers and the leopard men Sierra Leone 284

12 The positive positive women: AIDS in Africa 321

13 Copying King Leopold: Congo 353

14 Not just another country: South Africa 380

15 Meat and money: Eating in Kenya 415

16 Look out world: Nigeria 439

17 New colonists or old friends? Asia in Africa 484

18 Phones, Asians and the professionals: The new Africa 509

Epilogue 543

Further Reading 551

Index 554

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Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I cane back from Africa I wanted to learn more about it so I read this book that talks about their cultres,the way they eat, and what they eat. It helps you learn about other places in the world without leaving home!! This book is a non-stopping I couldn't put it down for 3 days when I finnaly finnished it I was soooo happy that I wanted to go back to Africa and learn even more!!!!!
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing 10 months ago
You feel like Chris Dowden's got to be winding you up a bit. He commits every one of the sins in Binyavanga Wainaina's classic essay "How to Write About Africa." The first sentence of his book is literally about how the sky is bigger there. Sure, Chinua Achebe blurbed the book, but immediately you start thinking about how erratic great men can get in their later years and how blurbage is really just a type of payola (blurbola) and a frown creases your features.And yet there's a weird truth beneath the blithe idiocy of the phrase "Dowden knows Africa." He knows Uganda, more or less--lived there for a couple of years as a young man until he was chased out by Idi Amin and talks about it with that half-endearing, half-repulsive sense of ownership that you've heard from other ex-expats like the English teacher who spent all his time in Japan cursing Japan and now spends all his time here lionizing it, or like the sweaty-palmed nightmare who left Thailand under a cloud. But as much as a journalist is capable of knowing anything--and make no mistake, this is through and through a journalist's book--he knows other places: Somalia, where he covered the UN intervention, whence his riventing (journalist's) portait of the Somali people like somethimg out of Dune or Dark Sun; Rwanda, where the genocide, which unlike anything else in the book seems to have left Dowden unmanned, unable to find the words, which multiplied by the other journalists there helps make clear why nobody outside got what was going on till the enormity was done; Nigeria, where he successfully leavens an essay on the petrocurse with anecdotes on how he got taken advantage of in Nigeria just like everybody does. Other places, he's less convincing with his "Africa hand" schtick--Zimbabwe, where he reduxes the death of old Rhodesia and the subsequent waste of a country; Sierra Leone, where more of the same only diamonds and child soldiers; you know, Economist stories writ large. A chapter on China in Africa verges on parody.But within the evident limits of Dowden's outlook on life he can be incisive and brilliant, and ultimately I chalk the compulsive, Tourettesy drawing of nine thousand absurd generalizations about Africa on every single page up not to winding-us-up and less to clownishness than overcynicism--giving the people just a bit too much of what they want, like. Sometimes his generalizations have plausible heuristic power, like the constant return to the "African trinity" of music, conversation, and God. (Maybe when I get back from Uganda in six months I'll chuckle in embarrassment that I ever thought that?) Other times, they're just readable Wikipedia articles, which is no bad thing really. His central motif is from Achebe, the house in A Man of the People liberated from the colonialists by "the smart and lucky and hardly ever the best," crumbling and swathed in barbed wire and with everybody kept out by guards with AKs. He doesn't seem to see the incongruity between that and his capitalist boosterism (although he's not just a neoliberal cheerleader--even as his bootstrap bromides fall flat, his support for African protectionism is surprisingly nuanced. Oh, another good chapter is on South Africa, where he gives Mandela, Biko et al. a kind of Old Guard Bolshevik treatment that is entertaining and puts a lot of failure on Thabo Mbeki's shoulders even if it can't actually really compare him to Stalin.The book is informative, and the egregious indulgence in Wainaina's no-nos that Dowden falls into when he tries to draw cultural generalizations on their basis is forgivable because he ends on an upnote. I'm excited to be going to "Africa" (Uganda. Jinja, Uganda, formerly in the Buganda kingdom, part of the hereditary territory of the Baganda people. Y'know, "Africa") in an upnote moment. This has at least got me thinking in terms of many of the popular go-to discourses.On the other hand, there's that title, and that shirtless kid with the soccer ball o
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leaves no stone unturned in trying to dissect this remarkable continent. Breathtaking ideas and arguments from an author who truly loves his subject. Thank you for your unique perspective on this land. After I finished reading I began to read again and was amazed at all the information I really had in front of me. More please ftom this remarkable writer.
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Anyone on?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*begins to pack silently crying*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets ask starclan to change rules
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Runs in the forest right before he entered he glanced back at her,then paded in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ill be gone for the weekened! Seeya on monday! $Hawktalon$
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of you post now if youre still here.