cover image Africa Betrayed

Africa Betrayed

George B. N. Ayittey. St. Martin's Press, $45 (412pp) ISBN 978-0-312-08058-7

This vigorous attack on corruption and mismanagement by post-colonial African leaders is bolstered by the author's experience as a dissident in his native Ghana. Ayittey, who teaches economics at the American University in Washington, D.C., blames African elites, foreign powers and even black Americans for aiding and abetting black dictators. Surveying indigenous political institutions--but neglecting the treatment of women--he argues that current leaders distort history when they claim their heritage supports not democracy but one-party and/or military rule. He ranges through the colonial and independence periods before cataloguing depredations in places like authoritarian Zimbabwe and Zaire, the ``epitome of African kleptocracy.'' Ayittey proposes decentralized, democratic government based on indigenous principles to counter tribalism, a problem examined too briefly. Arguing that the West can best help Africa by promoting freedom of expression, Ayittey calls upon Africans to author their own intellectual, political and economic reforms. (Jan.)