Africa in Chaos: A Comparative History

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9780312164003: Africa in Chaos: A Comparative History

In a follow-up to his ground-breaking Africa Betrayed, George Ayittey takes up the plight of Africa at the end of the 20th century. Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros- Ghali once said that Africa was "in danger of becoming the lost continent" and, on this point, Ayittey thoroughly agrees. As he begins to see countries like Nigeria go over the edge of economic and social disaster, Ayittey uses his formidable powers of analysis to look at the political economy of Africa, the incursion of foreign powers and the relationship of Africa to the world market. He contrasts the indigenous systems of government that existed in Africa before the arrival of Europeans with the colonial and post-colonial systems that were forced on the country and the effect these systems have had on Africa’s inability to move forward. Ayittey’s view is dark and, as always, Ayittey’s stinging conclusions will infuriate some and invigorate others. Certain to create controversy, Africa in Chaos is a must-read for fans of Ayittey's earlier work as well as anyone interested in the world economic scene today.

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Review:

Ghanaian-born economics professor George B.N. Ayittey takes a hard, unsentimental look at the continuing economic, cultural, and political downfall of African countries. While Africa is the world's second-largest continent, containing 770 million people and much of the world's natural resources, he contends that the postcolonial African nations cannot reconcile what he calls "the two Africas," one traditional and one modern (or "Western"). That split, he says, wreaks havoc on the African people, and he comes down hard on "the elites, the parasitic minority group [that operates] by an assortment of imported or borrowed institutions." Africa in Chaos examines the collapse of Nigeria's civilian-led democracy, as well as the anarchy in Liberia, the former Zaire, and Sierra Leone, outlining the suicidal quest for power that hinders Africa's growth. Ayittey, unlike many Afrocentric apologists, does not lay all of the blame for Africa's predicament on the West, but he does insist that solid, long-term investment from Europe and America is needed to lift the motherland out of its mire. His "Ten Commandments for African Intellectuals," intended to lead the way to success, include calls for an embrace of the African past, a relationship with the private sector, and consistent freedom of expression. --Eugene Holley Jr.

From the Publisher:

Praise for Africa in Chaos:

"George Ayittey's robust, provocative Africa in Chaos is typical of the vigorous torrent of scholarship and journalism that has begun to rethink Africa." --The New York Times

"Mr. Ayittey knows Africa well, has thought about it hard and has written a brave and reflective book." --The Wall Street Journal

"Ayittey sees Africa honestly...this book is 'must' reading." --The Chicago Tribune

"This book is crucial for anyone seeking an understanding of Africa's condition, and anyone who has a genuine interest in finding solutions. Read it now, before it's too late." --The Washington Times

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