34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Rays of hope in the darkness of despair,
This review is from: The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future (Paperback)In this captivating book, the author shares his experiences of Sub-Saharan Africa by exploring the reasons for the region's abject poverty and suffering. Guest takes into account factors like for example climate and history, whilst quoting African writers like Chinua Achebe, Themba Sono and Chenjerai Hove.
The text often focuses on rays of hope amidst the despair so the book is not a relentless tale of woe. Guest identifies negative issues like tribalism and corruption and the waste of aid money while pointing out positive developments in places like Botswana, South Africa, Uganda and Senegal.
He examines the good results in countries that follow sound fiscal and monetary policies as opposed to the vampire state in places like Zimbabwe or the failed state in e.g. Congo (Zaire). A very important point that Guest makes is that Africa can develop and improve the lives of its people without sacrificing its culture. Japan is proof enough that modernity does not necessarily threaten an indigenous culture.
Guest discusses Rwanda's holocaust and religious clashes in Nigeria, takes a balanced look at South Africa's successes and its failures like its lack of an AIDS policy and criticises western countries for their agricultural protectionism that is holding Africa back. More Western aid is not the answer, and in some places mineral wealth has been more of a curse than a blessing.
He makes a plea for increased trade and praises the stability that exists in those countries where property rights are respected. He also surveys the situation of the media, where both oppression and lack of money are impediments to a free press. The book ends on an optimistic note with the example of a young man in the KwaZulu province of South Africa having become a successful businessman after abandoning a life of violence.
The book concludes with bibliographic notes and an index. The Shackled Continent can be heartbreaking at times, but the overall tone is optimistic, and realistically so. The book leaves an impression of hope and the reader can only pray that good government may soon come to Africa. The title of South Africa's national anthem by Enoch Sontonga, says it all: Nkosi sikelele i'Afrika, meaning God bless Africa.