African Interest

African Interest

  • Why Nations Fail

    Why Nations Fail

    Ksh 1799

    Brief Summary Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories. Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including: - China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West? - Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority? - What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions? Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world."

  • Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

    Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

    Ksh 1299

    Brief Summary In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance.Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions. " "

  • Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures

    Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures

    Ksh 1399

    Brief Summary A new kind of war requires a new kind of war story. This scorching, devastatingly honest memoir is a first-of-its-kind confession of love, friendship, and betrayal of ideals from civilians who volunteered to be on the front lines. In the early 1990s, three young people attracted to UN peacekeeping for very different reasons cross paths in Cambodia. Heidi, a new York social worker on the run from a marriage gone bust, is looking for an adventure. Andrew is a young doctor seeking to save lives. Ken is fresh from Harvard Law and full of idealism. The UN organizes Cambodia's first democratic elections, and Phnom Penh is the scene of wild parties, as the international community celebrates the end of the Cold War. There the three become friends for life. Propelled by success in Cambodia, the US and UN sponsor peacekeeping missions to Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia. Ken and Heidi find themselves together in Somalia. They dance on their rooftop to Jimi Hendrix while helicopters buzz overhead so close they feel the heat of the exhaust. "You're listening to 99.9 FM MogadishuRockin' the Dish," American Armed Forces Radio announces, "Keep your head down and the volume up." But after the infamous Black Hawk Down incident when eighteen US Army Rangers were killed in a firefight with Somali militias, a chain reaction of violence breaks loose. As the trio's missions unravel, their bond tightens. Andrew is sent to Haiti, to Bosnia, and then Rwanda where he finds Ken, investigating the mass grave of genocide. Heidi's journey is unforgettablea rare woman in a man's world of conflict and war. The three friends' voices mingle to paint an indelible picture'suffused with tenderness and unexpected humorof life, love, and death in the world's most dangerous places. By day they struggle to bring order out of chaos; by night they use revelry, sex, each otherdesperate measures from faith to flesh and everything in betweento find a human connection in a terrifying world. Graphic, lyrical, and astonishingly urgent, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is a celebration of the strength of the human spiritand of the gritty power of friendship to keep you alive.

  • A Good African Story by Andrew Rugasira

    A Good African Story by Andrew Rugasira

    Ksh 1199

    Brief Summary Since it was founded in 2003, Good African Coffee has helped thousands of farmers earn a decent living, send their children to school and escape a spiral of debt and dependence. Africa has received over $1 trillion in aid over the last fifty years and yet despite these huge inflows, the continent remains mired in poverty, disease and systemic corruption. In A Good African Story, Andrew Rugasira argues that trade has achieved what years of aid failed to deliver, and has provided a tantalising glimpse of what Africa could be.As he recounts the very personal story of his company and the challenges that he has faced – and overcome – as an African entrepreneur, Rugasira discusses the barriers that currently prevent fair and equal trade between Africa and the rest of the world. He sets out the arguments for building a sustainable trade framework and reducing dependency on handouts. And he builds up a manifesto for a revolution in the way that Africa is perceived.This is a book about Africa taking its destiny in its own hands, and dictating the terms of its future.

  • Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson

    Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson

    Ksh 1899

    Brief Summary In "a gripping narrative that is all but impossible to put down" (Joseph C. Miller), Histories of the Hanged exposes the long-hidden colonial crimes of the British in Kenya. This groundbreaking work tells how the brutal war between the colonial government and the insurrectionist Mau Mau between 1952 and 1960 dominated the final bloody decade of imperialism in East Africa. Using extraordinary new evidence, David Anderson puts the colonial government on trial with eyewitness testimony from over 800 court cases and previously unseen archives. His research exonerates the Kikuyu rebels; hardly the terrorists they were thought to be; and reveals the British to be brutal aggressors in a "dirty war" that involved leaders at the highest ranks of the British government. This astonishing piece of scholarship portrays a teetering colonial empire in its final phase; employing whatever military and propaganda methods it could to preserve an order that could no longer hold. "

  • There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe

    There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe

    Ksh 1599

    Brief Summary From the legendary author of Things Fall Apart—a long-awaited memoir of coming of age in a fragile new nation, and its destruction in a tragic civil war For more than forty years, Chinua Achebe has maintained a considered silence on the events of the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967–1970, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making, comes a towering account of one of modern Africa’s most disastrous events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring stamp on world literature. A marriage of history and memoir, vivid firsthand observation and decades of research and reflection, There Was a Country is a work whose wisdom and compassion remind us of Chinua Achebe’s place as one of the great literary and moral voices of our age.

  • The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding

    The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding

    Ksh 1999

    Brief summary  The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia. In The Mayor of Mogadishu, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, Andrew Harding, reveals the tumultuous life of Mohamoud “Tarzan” Nur - an impoverished nomad who was abandoned in a state orphanage in newly independent Somalia and became a street brawler and activist.  When the country collapsed into civil war and anarchy, Tarzan and his young family became part of an exodus, eventually spending twenty years in North London. But in 2010 Tarzan returned, as Mayor, to the unrecognizable ruins of a city now almost entirely controlled by the Islamist militants of Al Shabab. For many in Mogadishu, and in the diaspora, Tarzan became a galvanizing symbol of courage and hope for Somalia.  But for others, he was a divisive thug, who sank beneath the corruption and clan rivalries that continue, today, to threaten the country’s revival. The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey. 

  • The Wretched Africans by Joe Khamisi

    The Wretched Africans by Joe Khamisi

    Ksh 1899

    Brief summary  The Wretched Africans: A Study of Rabai and Freretown Slave Settlements This book is about the 19th century slave trade in Eastern and Central Africa. No one in the history of humankind has suffered the indignity, abuse and pain of slavery than the African. Over many centuries, millions of Africans were uprooted from their quaint villages in the interior of the "Dark Continent" and taken into slavery.  They were exported to the Americas, Asia, Arabia and a dozen other countries around the globe, to work in plantations, in the pearl industry, and as soldiers and domestic workers. Boys were castrated and made eunuchs and girls were sexually abused and forced into harems. Unfortunately, the African slave narrative - written mostly by Western historians and missionaries - has been contemptibly distorted to portray Europeans as the gallant saviors, the notorious slave traders as swaggering heroes, and the African captives as wretched victims of a horrible but regrettably inevitable human phenomenon of the time.  The truth has been loftily garbled or masked and the role of liberated Africans vastly under-represented. The Wretched Africans peels of what is beneath the Arab slave trade, unravels the racism and abuse meted against Africans by European explorers and missionaries, and lays bare the heroism and resilience of the African captives. It memorializes Africans who died in caravan trails, at sea and those who found freedom in slave settlements around the world. It is a must read for historians, researchers, students and the general public wanting to understand the truth about what happened to an estimated eleven million people taken captive from the east coast of Africa to the new world and beyond.   "

  • War Crimes by Rasna Warah

    War Crimes by Rasna Warah

    Ksh 1999

    Brief Summary  War Crimes: How Warlords, Politicians, Foreign Governments and Aid Agencies Conspired to Create a Failed State in Somalia In War Crimes Kenyan journalist Rasna Warah exposes how foreign governments and humanitarian agencies conspired to keep Somalia in a permanent state of under-development and conflict and how Somali politicians, warlords, clan-based fiefdoms and terrorists benefited from the ensuing chaos and anarchy.  The book is about the many war crimes that have taken place in Somalia in the name of peace, development, religion and reconciliation. It reveals who gained from the spoils of war and who paid the price. War Crimes is an insightful examination of why a failed state colluded in its own destruction and why the international community did little to stop it. "

  • The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama

    The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama

    Ksh 1899

    Brief Summary  The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today's developing countries―with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today's basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution. Drawing on a vast body of knowledge―history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics―Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.   "

  • Religion and Politics in East Africa

    Religion and Politics in East Africa

    Ksh 2699

    Brief Summary  Religion & Politics in East Africa: The Period since Independence This volume describes attempts by governments to manage religious affairs in both Muslim and Christian areas of East Africa. It also shows how religious denominations act in opposition to one-party state regimes; Islamic fundamentalism. "

  • The Wizard of the Nile by Matthew Green

    The Wizard of the Nile by Matthew Green

    Ksh 1599

    Brief Summary  The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted The civil war in Uganda has bled on for over two decades, spilling over into Sudan and the Congo and drawing only occasional interest from the West. The rebel insurgency in the north is led by "the wizard of the Nile," Joseph Kony, whose Lord's Resistance Army is infamous both for its wish to rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments and its unrelenting brutality. Matthew Green journeys up the White Nile in order to answer what seemed at first a simple question: "How could one maniac leading an army of abducted children hold half a country hostage for twenty years?" His quest is complicated not only by his plunge into a war zone to find the notoriously elusive Kony, but because the conflict itself continues to resist his, and our, attempts to understand it.  He meets the victims maimed or raped by Kony's soldiers; the soldiers themselves, who were first children, victims of abduction; the refugees living in poverty and fear in overcrowded camps; the foreigners working to bring peace; and the political leaders who have their own reasons for preferring war to peace. Green is an invaluable guide to this forgotten conflict, providing honest, intelligent insight into suffering too little understood and too long ignored. "

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