Book Review - "The Fate of Africa" by Martin Meredith
Even fifty years after independence, complex issues and overriding themes of afro-marxism, independence, nationalism, and big man rule remain prevalent and pervasive.
The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, Martin Meredith's historical account of the experiences of the African continent, deals with the issues nation-by-nation, while still tying themes together by leaders and over time.
One of the best-written non-fiction accounts of modern African history, The Fate of Africa delves deep into the personalities of nationalist leaders and into the logic behind the sweeping movements of afro-marxism that were seen throughout the continent.
Recalling the politics and policies of leaders such as Nyerere and Mugabe, and the ramifications of various types of leaders, Meredith shows the patterns and pitfalls of commonly-adopted policies, borrowing practices, and post-colonial reactions.
Compelling and gripping, this piece of non-fiction stands out as a definitive history of Africa with little political opinion.
Meredith does not offer up solutions to the problems that plague the continent, but instead merely points out that these problems exist, and that they exist to a more extreme degree in Africa than in other nations gaining independence around the same time.
Two exceptionally well-written books with diverging opinions on what should be done are George Ayittey's Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa's Future, which calls for better governance before more foreign aid, and Goran Hyden's African Politics in Comparative Perspective, commonly assigned as classroom reading, which makes a more Marxist argument about the issues of Africa.
From two very different perspectives, these books offer the solutions that Meredith avoids.
Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Africa, social work, political, racial, or post-colonial issues, The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence will not disappoint.
Although void of a solution, the book recounts a history that points to its own solutions.
Meredith allows the past to speak for itself.