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The most notable developments that this text covers includes the decades-long civil war in the South (with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005); the emergence of the Sudan as an oil-producer and exporter, and its resulting higher profile in global economic affairs, notably as a partner of China; the emergence of al-Qaeda, the relations of Sudanese authorities with Osama bin Laden (whose headquarters were in the Sudan in the 1990s), and the Sudanese government's complicated relations with the West.
This text is key introductory reading for any student of North Africa.
Written over a century ago, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness continues to dominate our vision of the Congo, unlikely as it might seem that a late-Victorian novella could encapsulate a country roughly equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi. Conrad's Congo is hell itself, a place where civilization won't take, where literal and metaphor darknesses converge, and where human conduct, unmoored from social (Western, in other words) norms, turns barbaric. As Robert Edgerton shows in this crisply narrated yet sweeping work of history, the Congo is still trying to awaken from the nightmare of its past, struggling to pull free from the grip of the "heart of darkness" cliche.
Plundered for centuries for its natural resources (which remain Africa's most abundant), the Congo was not always a place of horror. Before the Portuguese landed on its shores at the end of the 15th century, it was a prosperous and thriving region. The Congo River, the world's second longest as well as the deepest, and one of the only routes to the continent's interior, provided indigenous populations with ample means for living and trading. What the Portuguese found first to exploit were people, and with the slave trade began a dizzying downward spiral of conquest and degradation that continued for centuries. By the 19th century the race to explore the full length of the legendary river masked a fight for territorial and moral control among the French, Arabs, British, Germans, as well as American missionaries, all of whom dreamed of possessing Africa's very heart. When King Leopold of Belgium managed to solidify control in 1885, the Congo "question" seemed solved. His reign, of course, was almost pathological in its cruelty-the true source of Conrad's "horror"-and its grim legacy endures to this day.
Edgerton documents the Congo's long, sad history with a sense of empathy with and admiration for the character of the land and its inhabitants. Since independence in June 1960, the country has endured the machinations and disappointments of one dictator after another, beginning with Patrice Lumumba, and continuing through Joseph Mobutu, Laurent Kabila, and today Kabila's son, Joseph, who assumed power after his father was assassinated in January 2001. Whether called the "Congo Free State," or "Zaire," or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country remains perilously unstable.
The Troubled Heart of Africa is the only book to give a complete history of the Congo, filling in the blanks in the country's history before the advent of Henry Stanley, David Livingstone, King Leopold, and other figures, and carrying us straight into today's headlines. The Congo continues today to be the subject of intense speculation and concern, and with good reason: upon it hangs the fate of sub-Sahara Africa as a whole. Here is a book that helps us face the stark truths of the Congo's past and appreciate both the enormous potential and uncertainty of its future.
I could not conceive that anything in this world has power to resist a determined will, so long as health and life remain. The failure of every former attempt to reach the Nile source did not astonish me, as the expeditions had consisted of parties, which, when difficulties occur, generally end in difference of opinion and in retreat; I therefore determined to proceed alone, trusting in the guidance of a Divine Providence and the good fortune that sometimes attends a tenacity of purpose. I weighed carefully the chances of the undertaking. Before me, untrodden Africa; against me, the obstacles that had defeated the world since its creation; on my side, a somewhat tough constitution, perfect independence, a long experience in savage life, and both time and means, which I intended to devote to the object without limit.
England had never sent an expedition to the Nile sources previous to that under the command of Speke and Grant. Bruce, ninety years before, had succeeded in tracing the source of the Blue or Lesser Nile; thus the honor of that discovery belonged to Great Britain. Speke was on his road from the South, and I felt confident that my gallant friend would leave his bones upon the path rather than submit to failure. I trusted that England would not be beaten, and although I hardly dared to hope that I could succeed where others greater than I had failed, I determined to sacrifice all in the attempt.
A Rainbow in the Night is Dominique Lapierre's epic account of South Africa's tragic history and the heroic men and women—famous and obscure, white and black, European and African—who have, with their blood and tears, brought to life the country that is today known as the Rainbow Nation.
Examines the major issues in South Africa's history, from pre-colonial to present, including colonial conquest; the establishment of racism, segregation, and apartheid; resistance movements; and the eventual founding of democracy Contains an additional final chapter that takes the story to the present and considers the challenges and compromises of the first two decades of democracy Updated with material on post-apartheid era and current issues in South Africa The only book that gives direct guidance to bibliographical material and readings on key debates Provides a sharp, analytical overview of the new South Africa Extensive references are given to the key writings on each topic and the debates between scholars
In I Didn't Do It for You, Michela Wrong reveals the breathtaking abuses this tiny nation has suffered and, with a sharp eye for detail and a taste for the incongruous, tells the story of colonialism itself and how international power politics can play havoc with a country's destiny.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
My Traitor’s Heart is an astonishing work of reportage, at once beautiful, horrifying, and profound—a book unlike any other about South Africa. Rian Malan is an Afrikaner, scion of a centuries-old clan deeply involved in the creation of apartheid. As a young crime reporter, Malan covered the atrocities of an undeclared race war and ultimately fled the country, unhinged by what he had seen. Eight years later, he returns to confront his own demons, and those that are tearing his country apart. Written in the final years of apartheid’s bloody collapse, My Traitor’s Heart still resonates, offering a chilling—but ultimately redemptive—vision of the darkest recesses of the black and white South African psyches.
This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Philip Gourevitch his title.
With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.
Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.