October 7, 2007
Question. What is it that you want to write your last book about? What is it you want to know about Africa?
Why has it in large part failed, at least thus far, what are its strengths and weaknesses? The continent has been caught between Europe and Asia for 500 years and it is this intersection of ideas and values that explains the potential of success of 54 countries in continental Africa but also explains much of the failure. It is also about forty five years of working in Africa, and except for Antarctica perhaps the most difficult (and frustrating) place to work in the world.
I think it is going to be a book based on social values, family relationships and indigenous Africans and on the people who came to Africa from Asia, the Middle East and Europe after 1500, creating a blended culture based upon religious conversion, settler influence, and colonial rule. The question maybe is Africa better or worse because of its history of invasion over the last 500 years. To what extent can one see through the impact of this external invasion looking at African society and its culture. Africa was the origin on mankind and after anno. 1500 many of the descendants of peoples who left so long ago came back as intruders and conquerors. Africa the origin of the world but now are at the mercy of the world.
The theme of my book is the tension between indigenous people and their values and the values brought in by the invaders from the outside. A major component of the book is to look at the tensions that were created over the past five hundred years. The values are social, political and economic. It will be a book based on observation and images and interactions with people.