21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A sad story of UK government mismanagement - amongst many other sad stories,
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This review is from: It's Our Turn to Eat (Paperback)
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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Initial post: 2 May 2009 22:29:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 May 2009 22:45:10 BDT
P. M. Quintero says:
This book is fascinating but unlike Ethan Edwards, I wasn't surprised at the collusion of the British government, particularly the Labour government who is always looking for ways to " to assuage its "guilt" for past British colonial involvement in Kenya - by channelling more and more funds into the country which then disappear into the pockets of government officials. This is nothing new and those who believed Kenya is any different to any other developing country are naive. I have been to beautiful Kenya, but do not profess to know about it at all, apart from what I read, but it interests me all the same. What struck a chord with me as I read this enthralling book, were the similarities between a country where I lived in South America for eighteen years (being married to a national of that country) - and this story. Although Latin America doesn't have the problems of "tribe", corruption at high level is virtually the same as that which has transpired in Kenya. Like many countries in Africa, corruption in L.A. is endemic from the President down to the man who puts petrol in your car, to the official who renews your identity card or the man who gives you the correct answers when you go to take your driving test! Everything in "It's Our Turn to Eat" was entirely familiar. The cycle of corruption is almost impossible to break because it is a way of life. If you rock the boat, life can be made intolerable. However, it is interesting to note the (nearly always) negative comments about the legacy of British colonialism, because I can remember a Latin friend saying "you know, it seems to me that the wrong ships reached Latin America" - meaning that if it had been the British who had arrived on those shores as opposed to the Spanish Conquistadores, life might be quite different today!
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