“Africa – Altered States, Ordinary Miracles” by Richard Dowden

Finally. It took me forever to finish this over 500-page book on the most complex and conflicted continent of the world, Africa.

What to say. Although the author does seem optimistic at the end of his book on the future of Africa, reading through the ravaged and endless history of conflicts, corruption perpetuated by a dense list of inter-connected dictators was not a happy, neither a short, task. I simply hope that the new generation of youth in the continent where humanity began millions of years ago will be able to learn from what their predecessors did and become the change people have been waiting for and need. I can hardly imagine the vast gap between the rich, with a couple of houses locally and internationally, with education equal to the rich ‘from the West’, and the poor, living in the ‘shanty’ towns where theft, poverty, hunger and AIDS are part of daily life. will become narrower in a short time, or if it’s even viable. It’s so hard to realize the stark comparison between dictators from Asia and those from Africa. While we have dictators like Suharto and Park Jung-Hee on the one hand, we have others like Idi Amin and Mugbe on the other and although on each side, lives were killed and freedom was suppressed, along with wealth gathered for only a few individuals, at least, Indonesia and South Korea have managed to get out from the state of ‘utter poverty’.

What will happen to Africa? Will the ‘tradition of corruption’ disappear? Will people suddenly start trusting one another?

No, I don’t want to doom or curse Africa, but after 500 pages of continuous war and misery, with only a dozen with only  a glimpse of hope, it’s hard not to be ‘cautious’.

I hope that the author is right and that the new generation, aware of the mistakes and failures of the past, will build a stronger continent.


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