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Oct 13, 2018

Uhuru Revisited

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Uhuru Revisited by Ron Singer te, presents a wealth of African voices, all struggling with how to encourage open democracies in their lands A logistical tour de force, Uhuru Revisited includes interviews with leaders, journalists and some common folk in six African countries. As I try to process all the information here, I am struck by my own ignorance of Africa. Even though I have traveled to two francophone countries there and included African literature in my teaching, I have scarcely scratched the surface of understanding this vast continent with its countries emerging from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid only to fall into military dictatorship. Most of what I encountered here, the complex struggle toward democracy, was new to me. Much of the information is conveyed through interviews, which Ron transcribes verbatim.

The book contains three parts. In the first, which concerns income inequality in South Africa and Botswana, we meet individuals dedicated to helping the poor. Orlean Naidoo devotes her life to helping people like elderly Aunty Deeda regain such basic necessities as electricity. Utilities we take for granted are far from universal in Africa. Patrick Van Rensburg managed to relinquish old white-centrist views and lead the way in building needed structures. Part Two concerns the press in Ethiopia, whose journalists were interviewed in exile because of repression at home, and Kenya, where those valuing a free press struggle against corruption and ethnic rivalries. Speaking truth can mean persecution, sometimes even imprisonment. Section three deals with the lingering problem of corruption and governance in Nigeria and Ghana. We encounter the architect of democratic reform in Chief Anthony Enahoro and the inspirational leader and author Wole Soyinka. In Ghana, Ron spends hours with the inspiring Kan Dapaah, who gives hope that the ethos of corruption can be changed. The book is packed with all the complexity of a continent taking charge of its destiny. Africans were eager to get their stories out and happy to speak with an American who understood their history.

Ron’s experience in the Peace Corps (in Nigeria, I think) many years ago led to a life-long concern for Africa, its problems and, as shown here, its brave and brilliant writers, builders and leaders.

 

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