The Wonga Coup was favorably reviewed last week in WSJ. Like many book reviews, it may prove a more interesting read than the book itself. Robert Kaplan opens the review with the question that has crossed anyone's mind who has ever wondered how modern-day Africa has sunk to its current depths:
"The question is perennial: What is wrong with Africa? Why does a continent rich in natural resources, blessed with plenty of space, populated by plenty of young people, and positioned at the confluence of Asian and European trade routes fail so abysmally to "take off" and provide something better than a dollar a day for its inhabitants?"
I'll be reading this one at some point, regardless, as it appears to offer a close account of an abiding aspect of contemporary African failure, governance and its persistant undermining by short-term greed. Kaplan concludes,
"The most encouraging aspect of "The Wonga Coup" is its portrait of South Africa and Zimbabwe (notwithstanding the Mugabe regime's own arbitrary abuses at home) coming down hard on Mr. Mann and his coup-plotting cronies. Perhaps such a leap into action, thwarting nearby wrongdoing, is a harbinger of change for Africa. Still, it says something about Africa's wobbly governance that the conspirators felt confident enough to take their plan beyond a barstool daydream."