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Africa: Altered states, ordinary miracles, by Richard Dowden | African Affairs | Oxford Academic

We could do much more to support such efforts, with us Westerners serving as aides and financiers to African social entrepreneurs. View all New York Times newsletters.


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After discussing these themes in the opening of his book, Dowden takes us on a wearisome sight-seeing excursion through Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. But then the journey abruptly livens up when, hidden in a chapter on Senegal, there is a thoughtful discussion of why Africa is poor.

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Dowden chronicles the problems of colonialism and geography, but he also bluntly points the finger at wretched leadership. Employment opportunities in Africa are meager and rarely involve wealth creation. Often they found themselves blocked by rivals.

Richard Dowden

The elites who made money out of importing and exporting had an interest in preventing the development of local manufacturing or processing. One of the best American aid programs is almost unknown but addresses this problem. Dowden tends to be skeptical about the benefits of aid. Dowden would like to see Western countries help in ways other than simply offering aid.

Ending agricultural subsidies in the West, for example, would be a huge benefit to the many African farmers who have to compete.

Interview: Richard Dowden

In particular, I think his basic optimism is well founded, with the caveat that climate change may wreak particular havoc in Africa. We journalists tend to cover Africa in stark and simple contrasts, but countries live and grow and falter in grays.

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Tell us what you think. Democracy Most African nations have a President, a post that was first established when independence from a colonial power was granted.

Yet to vote him or occasionally her out of office after, perhaps, two terms of five years is foreign to an African mind-set. The Big Man is not for voting in and out; he has status that puts him above popular will.


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  5. Dowden also shows how the relationship with the former colonising nation may operate. Nations When considering specific nations Dowden masterfully guides us through the historical and political issues most prevalent in each, not always being complimentary to the former colonial power. These overviews do, themselves, cause the reader to realise the widely differing nature of African nations, and their cultures and practices.

    How do aid agencies cope in conflict areas?

    Foreword Africa is a night flight away: Images and realities p. Somalia p.

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    Review: Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden

    Asia in Africa p. All Rights Reserved. Our Awards Booktopia's Charities. Item Added:. Are you sure you would like to remove these items from your wishlist?