Sep 23, 2009

Foreign aid, corruption and disciplined nonconformists

Dambisa Moyo, move over. The best book blasting foreign aid powerfully is Michela Wrong's. It's our turn to eat turns out to be much more than the story of John Githongo, the Kenyan anti-corruption crusader.
Through the book we are gripped by the suspense of John's hiding in London from dangerous Kenyan officials, we learn about Kenya's colonial history, we live the 2007 elections and burnin and lootin that followed, we get annoyed by the World Bank and the UK's DFID corruption and complicity, we get enraged at politicians (read hyenas) and we understand better how ethnicity can hurt Africa. All this written a la John Le Carre with a montage a la Pulp Fiction. No boring academic rhetroric here.
John blew the whistle on a grand corruption scandal and in the end nothing changed. With this one precise story, we learn more about the political economy of foreign aid and development than with any other title claiming the crown. Aid watch praised it, Chris Blattman not as much, I just loved it. If "the hope of a secure and liveable world lies with disciplined nonconformists" (MLK), my hope is in John.

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