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on 18 May 2014
Maathai's "The Challenge for Africa" is, as I see it, a disappointing read. Deeply biased, not only does it pin Africa's current woes on colonialism but also perceives post-independence African leadership as a mere "change of the guard" and as entities that warranted business as usual by upkeeping and enhancing the alleged malpractices of the colonial administration. Seems that the colonial period does not hold any good practices and standards at all!

On the other hand, it fails to put the African independence trend of the late 50's, early 60's and 70's into historic context, particularly Southern Africa: the context of the Cold War and the Sino-Soviet regional expansionism back then. Thus, that the Liberation Movements were not only (mostly) Soviet and Chinese backed, but that by pushing for a communist post-independence Africa they embodied a new era of "freedom", development and everlasting happiness! So, not a mere "change of the guard", rather a revolutionary future ! As for the outcome of this "glorious" promised future, considering a few decades have elapsed since then, we all know the story.

"The Challenge for Africa's" political correctness does not stop here. It also works its way into changing Political Science's concepts as in "tribe" which it replaces by "micro-nation", considering the former negative.

All in all, Maathai's book proposed solutions for Africa within the Three Legged Stool, - democratic space, sustainable and accountable management and the adoption of "cultures of peace", is just wishful thinking. A continent devastated by recurrent instability, save a few exceptions, is ages away from democracy and what it entails!
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on 16 November 2010
Prof Wangari Maathai is a visionary to say the least.She weaves through the history,the politics and economic facts very well and truth be told I could not put the book down.I really was challenged as i read the book to help in bettering my country and my continent.The title is truly befitting and all Africans,African leaders and the people need to read this and oh the Bonos as well especially as regards aid.
Simply put amazing,if we all do our part as she says Africa shall surely emerge victorious!
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on 27 February 2010
The author brings a lifetime of experience to her subject and above all speaks as an African about Africa. This is refreshing book packed with ideas. Realizing it is written by someone awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the promise is still greater. The author strikes a balance as to where the problems of Africa have their origins: in the colonial legacy; in the imposition of external religion; in the Cold War played out in the theatre of Africa; in the damage wrought by loans and debt; but she also identifies the non-intervention of one African state in the affairs of another; the lack of leadership by Africans; and the corruption that can be rife at so many levels of society.

Despite the analysis of the past, the overriding impression is a book full of practical ideas for the future, driven by an enormous energy which reflects that of the African people. This is therefore not a distant, academic study but rather a flowing conversation as Maathai places on paper the thoughts that have occupied her life of activism. She highlights many challenges, including that of harmonising the "micronations" made up of tribes and ethnic groups within a country with the "macronation" represented by the country itself. But she offers many more indicators for solutions.

If I have a gripe it is that there are some chapters where the author focuses more on justifying events in her political career than addressing the more general questions to be faced. Despite this the overwhelming richness and refreshing novelty of the text means I would warmly recommend it to anyone who wants a modern, African view of Africa's challenges.
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on 24 July 2009
Wangari Maathai has succeeded once again to grasp some of the worlds most complex issues and to explain them simply and in ways that can enable all those that want to make a difference to make things happen. It is no coincidence she has a Nobel Peace Prize alongside Tutu and Mandela. Like them, she is one of the great leaders of our time. The tragedy is how little this book will be available in Africa where its content will be nourishment to so many. I will be buying lots of copies and ensuring it gets to some of the other heroes and heroines in Africa.
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on 30 December 2014
An interesting, well-constructed treatise on the problems and suggested solutions which face Africa today. Maathai pulls no punches. She blames the missionaries and colonialism for a large part of Africa's ills which, considering over fifty years has passed since most African countries gained their independence, seems harsh.
But she also roundly castigates current corruption in leadership. Everybody bemoans this rampant disease which is so obvious in Africa. But nobody is willing or capable of doing anything about it. Will they ever?
The solutions, insists the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, lies in protecting and preserving the environment, emancipating women, and working from the grassroots of African society up through country leadership to international politics. A valiant aim, and a well-deserved honour, for this is exactly what Maathai is working at.
African nations must develop their own cultures and find their own way as they learn from industrialised nations, picking out the attributes which suit Africa best. There is advantage in learning by others' mistakes, and there is always hope in Africa.
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on 9 February 2014
for a first time reader on African politics this would be a great place to start, or if you need a refresher then its great too. The format of most chapters is to spend 17 pages addressing the many problems of the particular topic, which have been stated many times before, then 1 or two pages suggesting policy recommendations. The balance was not quite right therefore but the book was interesting none the less.
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on 24 March 2013
This book covers well the various issues facing Africa today, in particular corruption and ethnic conflict. Since the author is Kenyan, many of the case studies are on Kenya and I would have preferred a bit more variation, but this is not a massive problem. Definitely worth a read for those who want to know the reasons for why Africa is like it is today.
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on 6 May 2014
I read this complex book because it was written by someone I respect. May she rest in peace. The book covers a lot of topics in detail that affect Africa including its colonial past. There was not much that I didn't already know but I am glad that it was written by a Nobel prize winner, so that it is taken seriously.

From an African point of view, I agree with her points and solutions when it comes to political and economical issues facing Africa today. Good governance and self sustenance is the way forward, although one solution will not apply to all 54 countries. Having said that, I am still of the view that aide is very important in some sectors e.g. health.

If you are interested in African development, this book is for you.
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on 16 October 2013
Wangari has the problems in Africa nailed, but her ideas on the solutions focus on the institution that are manifestly weak. Surely there needs to be more attention given to removing criminals from Leadership positions rather than hoping for the best.
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on 20 March 2013
This woman changed the whole aspect on RETURNING nature to it's roots - so many have been busy denuding it which I was always against for many years. My only disapointment with this book, is that it doesn't have one photograph of the author which is so important as Wangari won a Nobel Peace Prize! I'll be honest, I went onto wikileaks to put some photographs of her in it!
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