My First Coup d’État: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

John Dramani Mahama. Bloomsbury, $24 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60819-859-7
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Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the late 1950s and ’60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial hope to fade, and Africa descended into its “lost decades,” a period of stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover. Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama, the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding school—the government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house confiscated. In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghana’s recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle impersonating a deity in order to cajole offerings of soup from the villagers hints at the power of religion; discussions with his schoolmates about confronting a bully form the nucleus of his political awakening. As he writes: “The key to Africa’s survival has always been... in the story of its people, the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our lives.” The book draws to a close as the author’s professional life begins, and one suspects the most interesting chapters have yet to be written. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 07/03/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-60819-886-3
Paperback - 318 pages - 978-1-60819-887-0
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4088-3268-4
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