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Africa: Altered States Ordinary Miracles av…
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Africa: Altered States Ordinary Miracles (urspr publ 2008; utgåvan 2009)

av Richard Dowden (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3011066,362 (4.11)7
In captivating prose, Dowden spins tales of cults and commerce in Senegal and traditional spirituality in Sierra Leone; analyzes the impact of oil and the Internet on Nigeria and aid on Sudan; and examines what has gone so badly wrong in Rwanda and the Congo.
Medlem:joshyearsley
Titel:Africa: Altered States Ordinary Miracles
Författare:Richard Dowden (Författare)
Info:Portobello Books Ltd (2009), 592 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:Ingen/inga

Verkdetaljer

Afrika : framtidens kontinent av Richard Dowden (2008)

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» Se även 7 omnämnanden

engelska (9)  norska (1)  Alla språk (10)
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One of the better books on Africa. Very well researched and written with profiles of countries and rulers of a selected few countries starting from the period of their independence from their colonial rulers.

When all of them start with good intentions, it quickly denerates into utter misrule and megalomania. What sort of persons would charter concordes, build lavish palaces, crown themselves emperors when their countrymen are dying of preventible diseases and starvation.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
One of the better books on Africa. Very well researched and written with profiles of countries and rulers of a selected few countries starting from the period of their independence from their colonial rulers.

When all of them start with good intentions, it quickly denerates into utter misrule and megalomania. What sort of persons would charter concordes, build lavish palaces, crown themselves emperors when their countrymen are dying of preventible diseases and starvation.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
You feel like Chris Dowden's got to be winding you up a bit. He commits every one of the sins in Binyavanga Wainaina's classic essay "How to Write About Africa." The first sentence of his book is literally about how the sky is bigger there. Sure, Chinua Achebe blurbed the book, but immediately you start thinking about how erratic great men can get in their later years and how blurbage is really just a type of payola (blurbola) and a frown creases your features.

And yet there's a weird truth beneath the blithe idiocy of the phrase "Dowden knows Africa." He knows Uganda, more or less--lived there for a couple of years as a young man until he was chased out by Idi Amin and talks about it with that half-endearing, half-repulsive sense of ownership that you've heard from other ex-expats like the English teacher who spent all his time in Japan cursing Japan and now spends all his time here lionizing it, or like the sweaty-palmed nightmare who left Thailand under a cloud. But as much as a journalist is capable of knowing anything--and make no mistake, this is through and through a journalist's book--he knows other places: Somalia, where he covered the UN intervention, whence his riventing (journalist's) portait of the Somali people like somethimg out of Dune or Dark Sun; Rwanda, where the genocide, which unlike anything else in the book seems to have left Dowden unmanned, unable to find the words, which multiplied by the other journalists there helps make clear why nobody outside got what was going on till the enormity was done; Nigeria, where he successfully leavens an essay on the petrocurse with anecdotes on how he got taken advantage of in Nigeria just like everybody does. Other places, he's less convincing with his "Africa hand" schtick--Zimbabwe, where he reduxes the death of old Rhodesia and the subsequent waste of a country; Sierra Leone, where more of the same only diamonds and child soldiers; you know, Economist stories writ large. A chapter on China in Africa verges on parody.

But within the evident limits of Dowden's outlook on life he can be incisive and brilliant, and ultimately I chalk the compulsive, Tourettesy drawing of nine thousand absurd generalizations about Africa on every single page up not to winding-us-up and less to clownishness than overcynicism--giving the people just a bit too much of what they want, like. Sometimes his generalizations have plausible heuristic power, like the constant return to the "African trinity" of music, conversation, and God. (Maybe when I get back from Uganda in six months I'll chuckle in embarrassment that I ever thought that?) Other times, they're just readable Wikipedia articles, which is no bad thing really. His central motif is from Achebe, the house in A Man of the People liberated from the colonialists by "the smart and lucky and hardly ever the best," crumbling and swathed in barbed wire and with everybody kept out by guards with AKs. He doesn't seem to see the incongruity between that and his capitalist boosterism (although he's not just a neoliberal cheerleader--even as his bootstrap bromides fall flat, his support for African protectionism is surprisingly nuanced. Oh, another good chapter is on South Africa, where he gives Mandela, Biko et al. a kind of Old Guard Bolshevik treatment that is entertaining and puts a lot of failure on Thabo Mbeki's shoulders even if it can't actually really compare him to Stalin.

The book is informative, and the egregious indulgence in Wainaina's no-nos that Dowden falls into when he tries to draw cultural generalizations on their basis is forgivable because he ends on an upnote. I'm excited to be going to "Africa" (Uganda. Jinja, Uganda, formerly in the Busoga kingdom, part of the hereditary territory of the Basoga people. Y'know, "Africa") in an upnote moment. This has at least got me thinking in terms of many of the popular go-to discourses.

On the other hand, there's that title, and that shirtless kid with the soccer ball on the front. This book was informative and sometimes affecting, but and I'm glad I read it, but I won't be putting it out on my bookshelf where people can see. ( )
3 rösta MeditationesMartini | Apr 18, 2012 |
A readable book, with interesting analogies and insights, some imaginary Afrikaans spelling and the odd dodgy generalisation. A very upbeat intro and epilogue sandwich some of the most depressing African stories I have ever seen in one place.
"Nigeria is now like eighteenth century Britain, deeply corrupt and with an abyss between classes." p.466
"50,000 Chinese contract workers were brought by British mining companies to SA in 1904 to break astrike by African workers." p.489
"All over Africa I have come across Achebe's house, the house that the colonialists built and suddenly abandoned. Taken over by 'the smart and the lucky but hardly ever the best' ".(p.511 - earlier quoting "A Man of the People" on page 69) ( )
  mnicol | Jan 7, 2012 |
Vet du hva som egentlig foregår i Afrika? Jo, nå skal du høre...
Det har vært sagt og skrevet mye om at Afrika er i ferd med å forandre seg, at det kommer nye stemmer fra Afrika, at det afrikanske kartet må tegnes på nytt og historiene fortelles på en annen måte. Det rare er at joda, det er nye fortellinger fra Afrika, men de blir fortalt av de samme gamle, de som har arbeidet i Afrika i tjue år, men som nå sitter i redaksjoner hjemme i Europa og kommer med sine tolkninger. Tomm Kristensen er en sånn fyr som har fortalt Afrikas historie en gang for mye. Richard Dowden kunne vært en annen som vil fortelle hvordan Afrikas framtid ser lysere ut enn vi i Vesten er så dumme å tro, men som så kommer med den ene begredelige historien etter den andre som bare bekrefter at ingen ting er som det aldri har vært, og at Afrika er et skurkekontinent til for å utbyttes innenfra og utenfra.
Nesten.
Heldigvis er Richard Dowden meget kunnskapsris, og han har reist til en del steder der andre ikke har reist. Fortellinger fra Angola, Senegal og Sierra Leone har en litt annen valør enn de vanlige historiene vi får høre, og den siste delen av boken viser mer enn godt at ting er i ferd med å sje i Afrika som viser at store forandringer er på vei.
Men hvorfor må det en hvit mann i femtiårene til for å fortelle oss dette? Hvor er afrikanerne selv, hvor er de vestlige forfatterne med afrikansk bakgrunn? Neste gang vil jeg lese en norsk-afrikaner fortelle om Afrika, eller en zimbabist som har studert i Beijing med skriveevner få fortelle oss om det nye Afrika.
Men god bok er dette. ( )
  geirsan | Dec 19, 2010 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Richard Dowdenprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Achebe, ChinuaFörordmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
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In captivating prose, Dowden spins tales of cults and commerce in Senegal and traditional spirituality in Sierra Leone; analyzes the impact of oil and the Internet on Nigeria and aid on Sudan; and examines what has gone so badly wrong in Rwanda and the Congo.

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