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The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working Paperback – 16 Feb 2007
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"This politically-incorrect work is a boisterous, entertaining and highly accessible polemic by a man who, when it comes to development and Africa, has every reason to know his onions. The author challenges the shibboleths of the aid industry with courage, compassion and humour. A timely and bracing read."--Michela Wrong, Author of "In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the ""Congo." "At first, this book made my hair stand on end, but then I saw it as the heartfelt cry of a lover of Africa who has devoted his best years to the continent. His analysis is disturbing and non-conformist, but I agree with his suggestions. He was not born one, but he is nonetheless a great 'African'."--Martin Ziguele, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (2001-2003) and runner-up in the March-April 2005 presidential elections. ""The Trouble with Africa" is a blast of fresh air over a continent that has for decades been suffocating under a blanket of well meant
'The Trouble with Africa debunks widely held myths, and will stimulate an important, ongoing debate.'
Top customer reviews
Despite his harsh criticisms of African countries, leaders and on occasion their people, he succeeds in enhancing the dignity of Africa and Africans by giving back responsibility. This book is timely. There is a risk that rich countries and rich people will tire of aid for Africa if results do not emerge soon from all the giving; Calderisi provides a powerful diagnosis and, even if his suggested ways forward in later chapters at times appear practically flawed, the challenges he poses provide an excellent contribution to the African debate. I would strongly recommend this book for anyone wanting an accessible understanding of the politics of aid to Africa.
1. It's self-congratulatory = a full 20 pages on Calderisis' life, most of it of no particular rellevance.
2. Utterly biased = yes, you can expect plenty of defence on World Bank policies in this book, which, although legitimate, stands in a pathetic contrast to Graham Hancock's "Lords of Poverty" accusations.
3. In his introduction the author discovers his talent for history, and gives a superficial, almost childish interpretation of events.
Here are some of my favourite sentences: "Africans survived the slave trade with the political independence and social institutions largely intact". Hey, why bother making distinctions between African communities, by area of living, etc, at the end of the day, they're all "African" aren't they. It's like saying the Holocaust left Europeans largely intact: Yes, if you're talking about Portuguese, no if you're talking about urban Poles, Gipsies, and of course, Jews.
On the Jews, by the way, he makes an interesting comparison: "Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833 and in the French territories in 1858. More recently -just 60 years ago- six million Jews were systematically exterminated (...) yet it's not common view that the Holocaust made the survivors less entreprenurial and self-confident". My dear darling Calderisi, the Jews were obliterated during a short period of time, not 400 years (ever thought that small detail has any rellevance??). The Jews are a semi-monolithic group (differences apart, they feel one and the same) and were latter subjected to a sympathy no African ever received. My goodness, go back to banking and leave African history to others!
4. Much of the book is a collection of uncontextualized glimpses of African recent history, most of it negative, of course, and focused on corruption, abuse of power, etc. Fair enough, it's all there, but when an author tries to make a point about Africa by simply jumping from an example in Guinea Bissau to Djibouti and Nigeria, from Mauritius to Ethiopia, it leaves me thinking he just sees the African continent as one large smudge of complication which is easier to simplify than to try to understand.
All in all, a rubbish waste of tree, but i'm sure it won Calderisi much applause and adulation, which is why the title of the book "Lords of Poverty", by Graham Hancock, still stands true. Thanks for confirming it, Robert Calderisi. Can't wait to read your next issue of self-praise!
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