A vivid, powerful, and controversial look at how the world gets Africa wrong, and how a resurgent Africa is forcing it to think again.
Africa has long been misunderstood -- and abused -- by outsiders. Correspondent Alex Perry traveled the continent for most of a decade, meeting with entrepreneurs and warlords, professors and cocaine smugglers, presidents and jihadis. Beginning with a devastating investigation into a largely unreported war crime-in 2011, when the US and the major aid agencies helped cause a famine in which 250,000 Somalis died-he finds Africa at a moment of furious self-assertion. To finally win their freedom, Africans must confront three last false prophets-Islamists, dictators and aid workers-who would keep them in their bonds.
Beautifully written, intimately reported, and sure to spark debate, The Rift passionately argues that a changing Africa revolutionizes our ideas of it, and of ourselves.
In this stunning book about the past, present, and future of Africa, foreign correspondent Perry (who's written for Time and Newsweek) achieves the seemingly impossible: he writes about the continent from a Western perspective without trying to define Africa to the West, inviting Africans to speak directly to his readers. Perry starts his continental journey in Somalia during the catastrophic 2011 famine; moves on to the world's newest and most volatile nation, South Sudan; and then works his way through 14 more sub-Saharan African nations. He places current crises into historical context, buttressed by on-the-ground reporting. Perry examines widely discussed issues affecting Africa (including famine, AIDS, humanitarian aid, terrorism, corruption, and Chinese influence), always mindful of the bearing each has on Africa's future. Along the way, Perry bumps into George Clooney in South Sudan, watches Robert Mugabe speak to a crowd in Zimbabwe, and confronts Jacob Zuma in South Africa. The stories he tells, of average Africans trying to carve out a better life, have the vividness of fiction. Perry also exposes the flaws of large-scale humanitarianism in Africa, addressing the inflated claims made for its success and its often counterproductive strategies. Candid, smart, and self-aware, this work is an impressive accomplishment that does more to give Western readers context for Africa's current condition than any book in recent memory.