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RAW Book Review: Advocates for Change, How to overcome Africa’s challenges

The Real African|| By Dumani Mandela

The book Advocates For Change edited by Moletsi Mbeki is a deeply engrossing book highlighting some of Africa’s problems and some solutions to them.

The book looks at number of issues ranging from, negative trends in the South African economy to, African mineral resources and what can be done to make them drivers of development.

The main sections focus on Africa’s educational system, entrepreneurship, health in Africa, traditional agriculture and also rethinking African regional integration.

“At the top of the society is what we call the elite‚ which controls the economy and also owns the business and the elite that control the politics. – Moeletsi Mbeki

At the time of its launch in 2011 the book was bestseller in South Africa, and not surprisingly so because it packs a lot of research into its pages. The book seeks to analyze why Africans comprise the majority of the world’s bottom billion illustrating how Africa’s political elite are to blame. 

When I first read Moeletsi Mbeki’s writings in Architects of Poverty (why African capitalism needs changing) I thought perhaps he was a bit of an afropescimist. However after reading his third book Advocates For Change I am some agreement to him that the political elite in Africa have done the continent a great disservice in providing future thinking leadership.

Although some of Moeletsi Mbeki’s arguments are a bit difficult to accept in that the political leadership has done very little to changing and rethinking the economic and political frameworks of Africa. To a certain degree Moletsi Mbeki forwards a valiant argument that African political leaders have reinforced a subservient relationship for African states to their historical colonial masters through faulty economic and political policies. 

He looks at the Lagos Plan of 1980 in detail and how it did little to reinforce regional integration in Africa with a body that would hold African governments to account.  He also looks at some of the faulty policies of African governments as a response to historical trade liberalization and import substitution in Africa which culminated in the Washington Consensus in the early 90’s, and states that Africa could have responded better to some of Washington’s neo colonial policies. 

Read more: Africa’s slow recovery from the Washington Consensus 

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book is a must read for young Africans whom want to examine some of the shortcomings of African states. The book is not only a critique but it also offers solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing problems in a pragmatic manner.



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