The Challenge for Africa

The Challenge for Africa

by Wangari Maathai
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The Challenge for Africa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
AndrewReadsBooks 11 months ago
The Challenge for Africa is a complex, multifaceted examination of the political, social, economic, and cultural problems facing the leaders of modern African states and a series of potential solutions for addressing these problems. Because the book takes on a wide range of intersecting problems, most chapters are about half history, a quarter development theory, and a quarter policy proposals. The resulting book provides a sound orientation to modern African issues, and is a good starting place for understanding what does and does not work in development work. Those who wish to enact change in Africa via outreach or political intervention should spend some time with this book. Of interest to me was Maathai's insightful analysis of how cultural structures associated with both colonialism and post-colonial identities challenge the implementation of broader political projects. The roles of missionaries and colonialists in de-stabilizing identities and cultural structures and their exacerbation of competition between micro-national groups reflects an understanding of African social issues that is often overlooked by other African development scholars. Similarly, the discussion of the complicated problems of providing direct financial aid does a good job in highlighting both the need for continued external economic support, the importance of fostering independence through natural resource development, and the hazards of poorly implemented aid dissemination strategies. In reading other reviews, it seems many reviewers expect very straightforward solutions to the problems of Africa, and are very focused on singular aspects of problems or solutions (e.g., aid money is often used to exacerbate income gaps and support unsustainable agricultural strategies, and is therefore harmful), and miss the intersections between her solutions (e.g., recognizing the need for ongoing and increased aid, but changing mechanisms to ensure appropriate use of funds in sustainable projects that foster agricultural and economic independence). It is important to acknowledge that the solutions Mathaai offers are imperfect and overlook many problems that African nations experience, but they do provide a framework for developing economic strength, agricultural security, and social unity which are the pre-requisites for addressing many of the continent's other problems. Acting on these recommendations also positions African nations to be more influential in addressing international issues which greatly affect them, such as continued resource exploitation by foreign governments and the ongoing damage of climate change.
Sweetbev More than 1 year ago
I learned so much about Africa and its challenges from reading the book. I had a very narrow view of what has happened and what is currently happening in Africa. Wangari Maathai does a great job of giving the history to help understand the present. I appreciated that she didn't give a one-sided perspective, but really delved into the subject matter and presented solutions. It's a call for the people of Africa to take charge of their future.