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The Challenge for Africa. Wangari Maathai
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Nobel Peace Prize-winner Wangari Maathai offers a manifesto for C21st Africa.

About the Author

Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1940. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which, through networks of rural women, has planted over 30 million trees across Kenya since 1977. In 2002, she was elected to Kenya's Parliament in the first free elections in a generation, and in 2003 was appointed Deputy Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2004, she has three grown children and lives and works in Nairobi.

Reviews

Africa's moral and cultural dysfunctions loom as large as its material problems in this wide-ranging jeremiad. Maathai (Unbowed), a Kenyan biologist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the tree-planting Green Belt Movement, surveys Africa's struggle with poverty and disease, political violence, climate change, the legacy of colonialism and a global economy that's stacked against it. But the deeper problem she sees is the selfishness, opportunism and shortsightedness of Africans themselves, from leaders who exploit their countrymen and loot their nations' resources to poor farmers who ruin the land for short-term gain. Maathai means this as an empowering message aimed at a mindset of dependency that would rather "wait for someone to magically make development happen"; she urges Africans to recover indigenous traditions of community solidarity and self-help, along with the virtues of honesty, fairness and hard work. Maathai shrewdly analyzes the links between environmental degradation and underdevelopment, and floats intriguing proposals, like banning plastic bags as a malaria-abatement measure. But the challenges she addresses are vast and intractable-and sadly, many of the development and environmental initiatives she extols seem to have already fizzled. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"I hope the world will support her vision of hope" -- Nelson Mandela
"From one of Africa's most positive and far-sighted thinkers comes a wonderful book combining an elegant critique of Africa's troubled past with a rallying cry for how Africans can use culture, nature and self-belief to reverse their continent's decline. The Challenge for Africa is a milestone in African writing that both educates and inspires" -- Tim Butcher
"Penetrating. . . a 21st century manifesto for Africans, drawing on her own experience as a worldly Kenyan, street-fighting activists, member of parliament and, from 2003-2006, government minister. Her analysis is thorough. She reaches into African history, culture, psychology, contemporary politics and fragile ecosystems" * Financial Times *
"Like a Nelson Mandela or a Mahatma Gandhi, Maathai stands way above most mortals" * The Guardian *
"Wangari Maathai is a prophet for our time" -- Alexandra Fuller

In this refreshing tract by Kenyan activist Maathai (Unbowed), the Nobel laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement analyzes what she considers to be the major impediments to Africa's development and calls for change at the community level. Maathai draws on her wealth of experience and doesn't hesitate to speak her mind, particularly in her summons that Africa's leaders assume a greater degree of personal responsibility for the continent's problems. A fact-filled and stimulating book made even more engaging by Nigerian actress Chinasa Ogbuagu's distinctive narration; highly recommended.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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