The Challenge for Africa
The troubles of Africa today are severe and wide-ranging. Yet, too often, they are portrayed by the media in extreme terms connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation. Here Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, offers a refreshingly unique perspective on these challenges, even as she calls for a moral revolution among Africans themselves.
Illuminating the complex and dynamic nature of the continent, Maathai offers “hardheaded hope” and “realistic options” for change and improvement. She deftly describes what Africans can and need to do for themselves, stressing all the while responsibility and accountability. Impassioned and empathetic, The Challenge for Africa is a book of immense importance.
men within their families is a major contributor to the lack of dynamism that is evident in many African societies, particularly in rural areas. These disrupted families make children more vulnerable. One of the most devastating experiences for any African—especially those who are parents themselves—is to see street children or child soldiers; or youth addicted to drugs, engaged in prostitution, afflicted with HIV/AIDS; or young men and women languishing in a state of alienation or torpor. Where
the practice of harambees, which had become a scourge in parliamentary constituencies. Harambee is the Kiswahili word for “pulling together.” President Jomo Kenyatta introduced the term in Kenya in 1963 to instill a community spirit and sense of self-reliance and hard work in promoting small-scale local development. It had since come to mean something like a fund-raiser, or a donation, having been hijacked by politicians, who recognized it as an important forum for influencing potential voters.
school classroom? Did they want to have pipes laid or extended, or have water flowing to a particular spot? Did they wish to build or complete a health center? Or hire a teacher for a school? This bottom-up approach helped people take ownership and feel like the projects were theirs. The chair and vice-chair of each sub-locational committee met and formed locational committees, also with fifteen members, to discuss what they'd prioritized in their sub-locations: What was most strategic? What
closing all local-language radio stations. It is the attitudes of those speaking into the microphones in the studios that need to be addressed. National media codes of conduct and legislation banning hate speech and incitement to violence could be considered to ensure that these outlets are used to inform and explain, not for broadcasting the rants of demogogues and bigots. The danger, of course, is that such structures of governance could be used by the leadership to squelch dissenting voices,
when business licenses were issued, some Africans quickly succumbed to corruption and easy money. They often became so-called sleeping partners, who received dividends as nominal co-owners, while doing little for the business. Eventually, many failed and never caught up. A further impediment to genuine autonomy was the fact that the countries of Africa became independent during the Cold War, which in Africa was far from cold. The United States and the Soviet Union and their allies not only were