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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A heritage of treating customers with naked contempt, 24 Nov 2011
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This review is from: History of Africa (Paperback)
Shillington's tome races through the whole tale of Africa, sketching the big picture, but often with little time for more than names and dates. At many points, such as the 1960 crisis in the newly independent Congo, he exposes the bias of previously prevailing accounts. The emphasis is deliberately positive, emphasizing people's accomplishments or heroic struggles against adversity. But I couldn't help but be freshly shocked by the longstanding traditions of businesspeople or politicians treating their customers with naked contempt.

For example, we have this typical item concerning Sudan in the mid-1800s: "The European, Egyptian and Sudanese merchants based in Khartoum ... found it more profitable to raid than to trade and the Egyptian government placed no restrictions on their activities on the upper Nile" (p. 281).

Across Africa, the companies and governments of the both colonial and post-colonial eras launched massive schemes, supposedly for the development of Africa: "But in practice the system was widely open to abuse, mainly because it was motivated purely by short-term private profit ... the companies concentrated on the violent expropriation of the people and their natural resources" (pp. 332-333).

The armies and police forces evicted farmers from their land, enforced economic and political monopolies, and crushed any customers who protested. Instead of trying to earn their customers' patronage, these business and political leaders commonly took whatever they wanted by violence.

Shillington does offer glimpses of a different emerging reality, where businesses and governments have to earn rather than enforce support from the customers. We catch sight of community-based development and women's initiative in places like Botswana, Kenya, or Burkina Faso.

The whole story has both hopeful and disturbing implications for the global future of corporate and political power. How does a "for profit" system work when the leaders of great institutions have little but contempt for their workers and customers? And how does that change?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, 25 April 2005
By 
Sancho Mahle (Charlotte, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: History of Africa (Paperback)
A remarkable book about Africa that takes you into time, written by an author who has a balanced judgment of the land, its past, its people , their strength and their weaknesses as well as the irrepressible forces that are the continent's future.Also recommended: Shake Zulu, Disciples of fortune, Africans and Their History, Triple Agent Double Cross, The usurper and Other stories, Hannibal
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5.0 out of 5 stars A recommended read, 13 Nov 2013
This review is from: History of Africa (Paperback)
An excellent general overview of the history of Africa. Very concise but well explained and developed. Highly recommended for anyone seeking an introduction into the history of the continent.
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History of Africa
History of Africa by Kevin Shillington (Paperback - 14 May 2012)
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