cover image Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent

Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent

Dipo Faloyin. Norton, $30 (400) ISBN 978-0-393-88153-0

Vice senior editor Faloyin debuts with a spirited critique of Western misrepresentations of Africa. Aiming to puncture the myth that Africa is “a place where nothing but misery grows,” he links the 1884 Berlin Conference, which created arbitrary borders that disbursed ethnic groups across multiple countries, or, conversely, forced rival groups together, to more recent foreign interventions to “save” Africa from poverty, disease, and civil war. Noting that less than 10% of Africa is under authoritarian rule, Faloyin highlights grassroots efforts to hold governments accountable and argues that “the further the continent gets from the damage wrought by colonialism and the early ethnic battles and civil wars following independence, the more each country’s attention will be focused on developing the common good.” He also examines how Live Aid concerts and other fundraising efforts reveal the “complicated balance between making a difference in the world and doing more harm than good,” rehashes the controversy over a documentary about Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, and highlights how the film Black Panther revealed audiences’ hunger for “a richly depicted Africa.” Flashes of joy and humor—including an account of British chef Jamie Oliver’s ill-fated attempt to create a “hybrid verson” of jollof rice—enliven the proceedings. The result is an exuberant and informative introduction to one of the world’s most diverse continents. (Sept.)