Tag Archives: Africa

Why Africa is Poor, and What We Can Do About It

THE SHACKLED CONTINENT by Robert Guest

by Robert Guest, author of The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives (Smithsonian Books, 2010)

I once hitched a ride on a truck through a West African rain forest. The journey was supposed to take less than a day, but it took four. The dirt roads were fine so long as it didn’t rain. But we were in a rain forest, so it rained often and hard, turning our route into a swamp. A collapsed bridge slowed us down, too. The worst delays, however, were caused by police road blocks, of which we met 47.

Every few miles, we’d see a couple of rusty oil drums and some barbed wire in the middle of the road, and we’d have to stop. A plump gendarme would check our axles and tail-lights and pick over our papers, hoping to find a fault he could demand a bribe to overlook. Sometimes, this took hours.

The pithiest explanation of why travelers in Cameroon have to endure such mistreatment came from the policeman at road block number 31. He had invented a new rule about not carrying passengers in beer trucks. When I put it to him that the law he was citing did not, in fact, exist, he patted his holster and replied: “Do you have a gun? No. I have a gun, so I know the rules.”

Africa is poor today for many reasons, Continue reading

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The Enough Moment

THE ENOUGH MOMENT by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle

by John Prendergast, co-author of The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes  (Three Rivers Press, 2010)

Three of the most horrible scourges facing humanity are genocide (the destruction of people based on their identity), rape as a war weapon (the deliberate destruction of women through targeted sexual violence), and child slavery (children who are forcibly recruited to become killing machines or sex slaves).

All three seem overwhelming and intractable, but the reality is that there are specific and concrete solutions that can be implemented, if only there were the political and popular will to do so.

Help is indeed on the way. In the last five years, Continue reading

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