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Title: Continental Shift
Subtitle: A Journey into Africa's Changing Fortunes
Author: Kevin Bloom; Richard Poplak
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers SA
Cape Town; Johannesburg; South Africa, 2016
ISBN 9781868424283 / ISBN 978-1-86842-428-3
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 350 Seiten
Sixteen African countries were visited during the reporting phase for Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa's Changing Fortunes : Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Supplementary trips were made to the People's Republic of China and to India. Over 600 interviews were conducted, no names have been changed, and there are no character constructions. [...] But we never did find the word, the answer to the question of Africa's what? Instead, we found many words, and we strung them together to make this book. Somehow, and not for lack of trying, we came to the conclusion that you can't slap a bumper sticker on a billion-plus people. In Namibia, for instance, where the population was small enough and stable enough to serve as a test case for any number of ecstatic pronouncements, the middle class was a phenomenon that seemed to dissolve in the desert sands.
In the DRC, where the endemic rent seeking and over a century's worth of selfish prospecting should have spelt more of the same, there was a massive gold mine in the northeast that appeared (really and truly) to be spreading the wealth. And in Ethiopia, where the world's most skilled agriculturalists were proposing an answer to the planet's looming food crisis, the global market system was as complicit as the quasi-socialist Ethiopian government in maintaining the status quo. At a certain point, we had to admit to ourselves that the only honest way to digest what we'd seen and researched was to allow it to marinate in its complexities. Even South Sudan, where the oppositional forces seemed so stark, proved that the prevailing hue was grey. Nothing was one thing. How could it be? The binaries and paradoxes that had at first nonplussed us were now the baseline hum of our everyday experience. Africa's greatest strengths - her ethnic diversity, growing population, vast landmass, boundless commodities - had also proved her greatest weaknesses.
While the arbitrary borders of 1885 needed to vaporise in order for the continent to prosper, African countries needed to stay intact in order to develop. [...] So no, we did not find the word. But what we did find, amid the noise of all those binaries, was an Africa returning to herself. The successive horrors of slavery, colonial exploitation and war had wiped the lands of their people. Now, they were coming back. Two billion souls, maybe more, would by the middle of the century call the continent home. The sheer enormity of their requirements would force another series of wholesale realignments, of which those we had witnessed were the precursors, the dry runs. Part detective story, part report from this economic frontier, Continental Shift: A Journey into Africa's Changing Fortunes follows the money as it flows through Chinese coffers to international conglomerates, to heads of state, to ordinary African citizens, all of whom are intent on defining a metamorphosing continent.