06 August 2009

The Challenge for Africa

Wangari Maathai, of Kenya, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement in 2004. Victor and I had the opportunity to hear her speak here in Chicago last winter and found her tremendously inspiring. Almost as soon as we got home, I ordered a few of her books, and this one is the first I've completed.

It's not a long book, but not a page-turner, either. I read it in snatches while I ate breakfast or lunch at the dining room table. Maathai presents a lucid, convincing account of how Africa got where it is and how the continent as a whole can move forward. She is able to rationalize why Africa's people have tolerated so much bad government and still express urgency and hope about ending such tolerance.

Her vision for a sustainble future for Africa, one which encompasses environmental sustainability as well as economic growth, is persuasive. I was struck by the parallels between what she describes in Africa and what has been going on here.

We are really not so far apart.

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