Big Men, Little People: The Leaders Who Defined Africa

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The Sixties were a heady time for Africans. All over the continent colonial flags were being lowered and Africans looked forward to freedom and a glittering future. But for most of the continent the last forty years have been a shattering experience. Since independence Africans have been terribly betrayed by the Europeans, the superpowers, and tragically, by their own leaders. Can a new generation of leaders turn the tide? Will they learn from their predecessors' mistakes and fuel a new African renaissance? Or is Africa doomed to further decades of turmoil? In this witty and informative book, Alec Russell answers these questions by telling the stories of his encounters with Africa's Big Men. Each one represents a theme which has shaped the continent: Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, the King of Kleptocracy whose staggering corruption crippled Zaire; Jonas Savimbi, the life-long guerrilla and symbol of the Cold War's destructive legacy on the continent; the quixotic Hastings Banda, the ultimate product of colonialism; and, of course, Nelson Mandela, symbol of reconciliation and hope for an entire continent. By any measure, this has been a terrible century for Africa. However Russell detects signs of hope in the fledgling human rights troupe he encounters deep in the steamy heart of the Congolese jungle and in the group of journalists keeping Moi's tottering regime in Kenya on its toes. Big Men, Little People is a vividly written portrait of a continent, which avoids the usual stereotypes and dire prophecies and entertains from start to finish.