960: The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

by Gerard


960.32: Meredith, Martin. The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence. New York: PublicAffairs, 2005. 688 pp. ISBN 1-58648-246-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 960: History of Africa
  • 960.3: 1885 to present
  • 960.32: 1945-1999

In the late 19th century, European powers went to work dividing up the continent of Africa among themselves. Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, and Italy each took a piece in hope of increasing their own economies and their own power. By the 1950s, however, African population groups began to declare independence from their European overseers. One by one, countries emerged to form a modern Africa, but then, one by one, those same countries began to crumble under their own problems. Rampant cronyism, unmitigated illness, poor education, and a severe lack of infrastructure have led the continent of Africa to the state it’s in now. Martin Meredith’s The Fate of Africa is an unflinching look at the people and processes that have formed Africa as we know it today.

Each chapter of Meredith’s enormous treatise is a case study in poor governmental choices. Dictator after dictator emerges, corruption plagues the populace, and proper services cannot reach those that need them. Meredith makes no apologies for his views, but neither does he offer solutions. The problems are too complex for easy, book-length answers. It is true that the global community is still sending aid to Africa, but improper oversight of that aid means that it oftentimes ends up in the wrong areas or the wrong hands. Meredith’s history is replete with sadness, misery, and pain, but we as readers should not look away. In some cases, it is the only time we do look. A heavy but eye-opening book.