Book Review: The State of Africa By Martin Meredith.


 
Book Review by Mwebya Fred
TITLE:  The State of Africa
AUTHOR:  Martin Meredith

In this book, Meredith offers an overview of the continent’s history that is both readable and illuminating, starting from the independence era of the fifties and sixties.  Almost without exception, however, the fortunes of Africa’s newly independent countries took a downward spiral. What went wrong?
As Meredith shows, the honeymoon of African independence was brief, although memorable. African leaders, riding the crest of popularity, stepped forward with energy and enthusiasm to tackle the tasks of development and nation-building. Ambitious plans were launched, bright young men rose quickly to the top. The sense of euphoria had been raised to even greater heights by the lavish promises of nationalist politicians campaigning for power, pledging to provide education, medical care, employment and land for all.

In defining their ideological stance, most governments opted for the umbrella of African socialism, believing that it held the potential for fast growth after years of exploitation by Western capitalism. For all the hype, African socialism was little more than a mixture of vague and romantic ideas lacking soundness, and subject to varying interpretations. Many of the countries in Northern Africa embraced Islam thinking it would offer solutions to the prevailing political, social and economic problems but the results were completely different from the expected.

After reading this book, it’s clear that Africa’s challenges still exist up to date. The repercussions of colonial systems still hold back many African states from taking viable political and economic decisions.  Africa still believes and considers Foreign Aid as its savior which is very unfortunate because this has blind folded the African economies from laying foundations for self-reliant economic systems. We as Africans must struggle to find our position and take a stand to reduce the dependency on Foreign aid from our former colonial masters who have continued to extend their rule  and impose foreign cultures and social norms through well-structured systems.

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