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It's Our Turn to Eat Paperback – 19 Feb 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (19 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007241968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007241965
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.4 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 452,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A tremendous account that reads like a cross between Le Carré and Solzhenitsyn.'
-- Guardian

'[A] compelling book...Wrong's narrative is part political thriller, part African morality tale.'
-- Financial Times

Review

'[A] compelling book...Wrong's narrative is part political thriller, part African morality tale.'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Wil Andersen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the early `90's I used to travel frequently on business to Africa - but primarily West Africa and usually Nigeria. I enjoyed it (mostly) and learned a great deal and met some wonderful people - but I did find it extraordinarily stressful. It was always a relief and relaxation to make a trip to Kenya. Warm, friendly, educated people living in a truly beautiful country. I only had the most superficial view/experience of it but it did seem to me to be a largely successful country which sat outside the stereotype of African countries.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of Michaela Wrong's early books - particularly the second about Eritrea and so was looking forward to this. It is a painful, shocking and illuminating read. Other reviewers here have commented well on the contents. What struck me by the end was the complicity of the British in a thoroughly corrupt political process - with a few notable exceptions such as Sir Edward Clay - and, indeed, worsening it through the totally mistaken implementation of DfID policies under Hilary Benn. When I read those splendid statements about our government's commitment to relieving poverty and strengthening democracy in Africa - I had no idea of the reality on the ground.

I thoroughly recommend this book - it should be read by every government minister - past, present and future - and by anyone interested in Africa.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ubong on 26 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
It's Our Turn to EatMuch, of course, has already been written about Africa and its inability to achieve its post-independence promise of economic development. Many commentators are even beginning to place the blame for its people's misery, quite rightly (if belatedly) on its rulers' astonishing levels of corruption and general disregard for their peoples' basic needs. In "It's Our Turn to Eat," Michela Wrong demonstrates a much deeper appreciation of the key considerations that inform these levels of conscious misrule.

Although primarily an account of one man's incredibly brave fight against these ills in his own country, Kenya, much of what the author so vividly describes also applies to many (if not most) of Africa's countries, where leadership only ever serves the narrow interests of tiny bands of crooks and scoundrels operating behind the facade of statehood. But this book cuts through the usual scholarly obfuscations and raises some fundamental questions to anyone with an interest in the region - particularly the "aid pushers" and those with a fanatical obsession with "externalities."

For me, as an African, the key question is no longer how we got it so disastrously wrong, but how we can emancipate our longsuffering peoples from our rulers' misrule.

This book is a veritable tour de force, but I would not have expected any less from a distinguished journalist and writer.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Gitau Githinji on 1 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone with an interest in Kenyan politics or recent African history, John Githongo's whistle-blowing story is not news in March 2009. The story first broke in January 2006 and caused something of a small storm in the pages of newspapers in the UK and a hurricane across Kenya's intelligentsia. It was, therefore, with bewildered curiosity that I approached reading "It's our turn to eat". I wondered why Ms Wrong thought Githongo's story - about being a corruption-excoriating journalist , to government anti-corruption czar, to frustrated fugitive in fear of his life - was not, by the standards of this insatiable journalist worth any more than a column in a sensibly selected liberal newspaper or political journal. But, no, Ms Wrong felt this story and its context to be so important that she chose to use it as her third vehicle in (what I see as becoming) her treatise : "Africa, a dysfunctional continent".

Having read her first two books with much enthusiasm, I was puzzled. Kenya is a much photographed and written-about country. It is instantly familiar to people throughout the world mostly for its sandy beaches, volcanic lakes teeming with birdlife, vast savannas and snow-capped mountains. I couldn't see what there was to write about in Kenya for a fearless journalist who was physically present braving bullets at the collapse of the Mobutu regime in the then Zaire and who managed to dig into the entrails of Eritrea's tortured history. Surely, I thought, there were more interesting, more challenging places to investigate than Kenya. After all, even taboo subjects like Mau Mau had been picked over and exhaustively examined by Westerners like Caroline Elkins and David Anderson. I was hopelessly wrong.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mdem on 15 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
I had read a review of Michela Wrong's book somewhere, and had it on my list of books to buy.

The book tells it all, and outlines the levels of corruption that exist in Kenya. What is amazing is that the Prevention of Corruption Act has been on the Kenyan statute books since 1956.

Examples are John saying that he had friends in the Narc administration that bought three properties at once, and were giving their wives $100,000 in spending money. The conflicts of interest that exist between donors and the corrupt regime, i.e. the World Bank director who rented his house from Mwai Kibaki. John tells us how tribal rivalry is used by the key players as a cover for theft.

I enjoyed the analysis of John Githongo. The struggles that he comes up against in challenging the system i.e., The Mt Kenya Mafia/Kiama (council of elders)/Big Men. John is not a saint, and the reader is shown how he goes through various stages of denial. He starts off believing that Kibaki is backing him to the hilt and then confronts the reality that Mwai Kibaki is in on the Anglo Leasing scam, and it becomes clear to him that he is investigating the President. He is faced with internal conflict, having to make some difficult decisions which will impact on his family, and friends.

John Githongo has a natural ability to befriend everyone, and we are shown how this enabled him to access information from various sources.

There were several bits of the book that I found hilarious. Wycliffe Muga a journalist saying that John Githongo was a coconut and a mzungu (white person) because of his commitment to transparency, honesty and accountability.
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