Book Review: The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair

Martin Meredith's Fate of Africa couldn't have come out at a better time. With so much attention given to Africa with Live 8 mega concerts and wrangling between Western politicians and hopeful development experts, finally there is a book that gives historical context to the continent. Meredith, a 40-year journalism veteran on African affairs, has written the first comprehensive study of post-colonial Africa’s first fifty years. Just under 800 pages, this book is not for the casual reader, but rather for an enthusiast of Africa's complex political history. The book begins with Ghana's independence ceremonies, which were seen at the time as a promising view into what was to come from the continent. Today Africa is only talked about in negative terms as a place full of wars, corruption and tyranny. With most African nations dependant on Western aid for survival, many African observers would say that a new colonialism has settled on the continent. From Lumumba's assasination, to Rwanda's genocide, to AIDS in Southern Africa, Meredith addresses the problems that all 54 countries have faced and what can be done, if anything. The book also gives dynamic bios of luminous and notorious Africa's giants such as Mobuto, Gaddifi, Bokassa and Amin. So what does Meredith think is Africa's fate? He says that "its potential for economic development has been disrupted by predatory politics of ruling elites seeking personal gain...who run them as regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival."


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