cover image It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower

It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower

Michela Wrong, . . HarperCollins, $25.99 (354pp) ISBN 978-0-06-134658-3

Kenya's dysfunctional state is the subject of this gripping profile of an anti-corruption crusader. Journalist Wrong (In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz ) tells the story of John Githongo, a journalist and activist (and Wrong's personal friend) who joined newly elected Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's administration in 2003 as anti-corruption czar. Githongo's reformist hopes were betrayed when his investigation of a contracting scandal earned him the enmity of colleagues, death threats and smear campaigns. He fled to Britain in 2005, taking along secret recordings of conversations in which powerful officials implicated themselves in the scam. Githongo, a charming idealist with an “intransigence bordering on egomania,” is a magnetic protagonist for Wrong's exposé of the machinery of corruption. She dissects the deeper problem of Kenya's patronage system, which exploits the state as a source of loot and makes allowances for the tribal parties in power. The resulting graft and discrimination—which Wrong argues fueled the communal slaughter surrounding Kenya's 2007 election—reinforces Kenyans' “view of existence as a merciless contest, in which only ethnic preference offers hope of survival.” Githongo's saga highlights this pan-African problem and addresses possibilities for change. (July)