In Africa Betrayed, Ghanaian author George Ayittey lays the blame for Africa’s shattered future right at the doorstep of Africans themselves, mostly their leaders.
The economics professor launches an attack on corruption and mismanagement by post-colonial African leaders. He not only blames the leaders, but also African elites and foreign powers from the developed world for aiding African dictators.
In Africa Betrayed, Prof Ayittey argues that many post-independence African leaders have distorted history by claiming that the African heritage supports one party or military rule but not democracy. He goes on to say those leaders try to insist on having an ‘African democracy’, not as democracy is known world over.
The book is also an attack on African leaders who destroyed the continent. From nationalists who won their countries’ independence, the author says the continent moved to gun-toting military men who are worse than the colonialists Africans fought against.
Though he is critical of the neo-colonialists in his writing, the author says commentators who are blaming external forces for the continent’s misery are naïve. He says: “African leaders themselves have betrayed both the just aspirations of their countrymen and Africa’s indigenous political systems which in no way endorse tyranny.”
The author does not stop at pointing out African flaws; he suggests solutions through which Africa can rise again. He suggests decentralised democratic governments based on indigenous principles as a way of countering tribalism in Africa.
Prof Ayittey also sees a ray of hope if there is a concerted effort to bring change on the continent. He talks about a second liberation struggle that will sweep away the kleptocracy and rediscover the African tradition and values. He catalogues plunders in places such as Zimbabwe and Zaire, the “epitome of African kleptocracy”.
In the foreword to the book, Makiziwe Mandela praises the author for the way he summed up Africa’s plight after independence. She says: “After independence, most Africans were denied the very freedoms they struggled so hard for from colonial rule.”
Ayittey’s book is not an ideal reading for two types of people: Those who idealise African leaders and those who have a school of thought that Africa should not wash her dirty linen in public.
The nearly 400-page St Martin’s Press publication is not readily available on the local market unless through special orders, but it can be got online at Shs160,000.
Book title: Africa Betrayed
Author: Prof George Ayittey
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Available at: amazon.com
Reviewed by: Henry Lubega