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The Challenge for Africa

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  504 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, offers a refreshingly unique perspective on the challenges facing Africa, even as she calls for a moral revolution among Africans themselves, who, she argues, are culturally deracinated, adrift between worlds.

The troubles of Africa today are severe and wide-ranging. Yet what we see of them
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2009)
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Aug 18, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Wow. I'm still absorbing this book and the many, many, many ideas it casually contains. To start off, here's Publishers Weekly's review:

"Africa's moral and cultural dysfunctions loom as large as its material problems in this wide-ranging jeremiad. Maathai (Unbowed), a Kenyan biologist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the tree-planting Green Belt Movement, surveys Africa's struggle with poverty and disease, political violence, climate change, the legacy of colonialism and a glob
May 08, 2011 Chrishna rated it liked it
Wangari Maathai clearly had some assistance in writing this book about Africa's challenges. Her writing is much improved from her previous book. I do take issue with her sometimes contradictory propositions. For example, in one chapter she states that one problem is that too much aide is given to Africa and then a chapter later she complains that not enough aide is given to Africa. Unfortunately, my overall sense from the book was a overwhelming sense of despair that an entire continent has so m ...more
Oct 22, 2012 Leone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent analysis of the environmental, social and political challenges in Africa written by an environmentalist, a woman, an African, a politician but mostly from a leaders perspective. Those who are leaders or who aspire to be leaders can gain insight into what Africa could be with a different direction. It is a book filled with hopeful examples of individuals and groups who are right now making a difference and strengthening the future in Africa. It took a while to read because there are ...more
Daniel Kibsgaard
Jan 14, 2013 Daniel Kibsgaard rated it really liked it
Maathai is passionate about modern Africa and lays out a comprehensive strategy to bring the continent into the 21st century whilst emphasizing the importance of retaining cultural heritage. She finds African solutions to African problems which she describes very convincingly and through providing evidence.

The Challenge for Africa is missing in some criticism of African history. It should consider the lack of a self critical, literate, engineering society that strives to find solutions to proble
Susan Steed
Jul 10, 2016 Susan Steed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The decline of much of Africa's fishing industry provides an unhappy glimpse into an economic order what continues to place commodities first and communities last, in which a problem like overfishing in the norther Atlantic and other regions of the world is exported to Africa, where it has led to African fish stocks and livelihoods being decimated. It is an example of how the world's interactions with Africa are not necessarily motivated by alruism, but by the self-interest of states seeking to ...more
S.E. Nelson
Jul 20, 2012 S.E. Nelson rated it it was amazing
I read this complex book because it was written by someone I respect. May she rest in peace. The book covers a lot of topics in detail that affect Africa including its colonial past. There was not much that I didn't already know but I am glad that it was written by a Nobel prize winner, so that it is taken seriously. From an African point of view, I agree with her points and solutions when it comes to political and economical issues facing Africa today. Good governance and self sustenance is the ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Drick rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
Some years ago I read a book on post colonial Africa written by a European journalist. I was appalled at the elitist bias in this supposedly historical book. I asked a colleague of mine from Malawi about a good book on Africa by an African; he could not recommend one. Now I have found the book Wangiri Matthai, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for environmental work in the Green Belt Movement, is a native Kenyan, who speaks as an African about Africa to Africans and those concerned. While remaining ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Xavier rated it really liked it
Wangari Maathai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Green Belt Movement. In her book, The Challenge for Africa, she talks about the ways and means through which Africa can recover from extreme poverty, conflicts between micro-nations, destruction of environment, etc. The book identifies the problems to the core and suggests solutions. The book is choreographed in order: history and background, politics and economical situations, leadership and governance, relation between the ethnic mic ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Debby rated it it was amazing
My literary agent, LH, recommended this book to me. Excellent account of the struggles the people in Africa encounter. Africans are hardworking, resilient and in need of the basics (education, skills, opportunity, freedom to express their culture/spirituality and a voice in their leadership/government).
Jun 05, 2009 Lily rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What an interesting, well-written, carefully crafted read. Though everything in this book is old knowledge if one knows even a little bit if African political history, it is refreshing to see a well-educated woman exposing the ills of Africa and proposing concrete ways to alleviate the plight of her people. Well done, Ms. Maathai!
Peter Atkinson
Nov 06, 2012 Peter Atkinson rated it really liked it
Worth reading and educational.

It is interesting that "America" can be substituted for "Africa" in many sentences and when it comes to sustainable development, The World.

It's time for humanity to change and for the failing short term leaders to be replaced, and time for the answer to be bloodless - not bloody conflict.

Azania Zulu
Jan 29, 2015 Azania Zulu rated it it was amazing
Mama Wangari Maathai, Africa's Baobab..she does not only talk about the problems plaguing Africa but she also suggests and provides solutions for our beloved continent. My favourite book on Africa thus far.
Wangari Mwangi
Sep 14, 2012 Wangari Mwangi rated it it was amazing
Brilliant work (book) of Wangari Mathaai. she calls a spade by its name, and not big spoon.
a must read for any African.
Mar 30, 2015 Teo rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
An excellent and credible insight on Africa, with lessons on leadership, bottom-up development and environment that could serve not only African govts, but many countries all over the world...
Jul 10, 2009 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa
Matt Theis
Feb 10, 2017 Matt Theis rated it it was amazing
best book in this genre I have read to date, characterizing the problems/solutions differently than Ive seen elsewhere and best matches my experiences in africa.
Oct 19, 2013 Tinea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intl development newbs
This is a good survey of development topics, distinguished by an emphasis on national-level policies and leadership, culture and civil society, and the environment. Maathai covers all the familiar ground, reviewing colonialism, neoliberalism, debt, and the continuing extractive economic structures that maintain the North's global dominance via exploitation of the global South. Maathai examines ethnic conflict by breaking down the difference between celebrating and supporting what she terms 'micr ...more
Oct 02, 2012 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Wangari Maathai poignantly argues the importance of identity, culture and the environment in improving conditions across Africa. Wangarai deconstructs historic events to illustrate their destructive influence on the fabric of African society. Her intention is not to place blame but rather to illuminate the effects and to inspire local activism.

Wangarai calls on Africans to embrace and understand their own culture and history. She calls on Africans to live for the life of the present rather than
May 17, 2011 Andy rated it liked it
Development, like a traditional African stool according to Ms Maathai, is based on three legs - democratic space; sustainable and accountable management of natural resources both for those living today and for those in the future, in a manner that is just and fair, including for people on the margins of society; and cultures of peace- fairness, respect, compassion, forgiveness, recompense, and social justice.
Ms Maathai says that "Scientists estimate that the cutting down of trees in the Congo Ba
Martin Bonobo
Write a review...A great perspective on environmental, agricultural, political (particularly "ethnic/tribal" politics), feminist and community aspects of African development. I was disappointed that so little attention was given to the barriers to small business (and business in general) in Africa. Africa is bursting with people trying to trade but almost all are prevented from growing beyond the small-scale informal sector. She gives the issue one paragraph in relation to deterrents to returnin ...more
Kathleen McRae
Jan 02, 2013 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it
The Challenge for Africa by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari iMaathai is a finely written book about Africa's challenges past present and future. Ms Mathai knows her stuff and while detailing the many plagues that challenge Africa she gives solutions.....environmental solutions that are not unattainable.She realizes that you cannot make people care about anything beside their bellies if they are starving and constant warfare produces an inertia that allows only the motions of being alive.The onl ...more
Mar 07, 2012 Kristy rated it liked it
Wangari Maathai is clearly a rock star and she wrote a rock star book to the people and leaders of Africa and the world.

I just hope someone reads it and turns her message into action.

Of course I had my moments where i disagreed with some of her recommendations but was mostly her cheerleader. I think the overall message is pretty close to right on regarding identity and cultural confusion being a major root of Africa's difficulties.

She does a beautiful job at subtly shaking her finger at people
May 10, 2009 Rafiki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa
Maathai presents a fresh analysis of the complex issues facing Africa today. She offers hope through passionate ideas for improvements-mostly through the nurturing of some basic values. Respect of self & of others,civic & personal responsibility/accountability ,and care for the environment are keys. Africans of all micro-nations(tribes) are encouraged to reclaim their cultures, but live in peace with those of other micro-nations. She challenges African leaders to provide (and civil socie ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Danielle rated it did not like it
Shelves: ricsophyr
I suppose my review might be biased because I didnt choose to read it, but I was glad to see it end. This book covers a lot of issues in Africa and Maathai's perspective on them. It really didn't hold my interest. Suppose this might also be because I read this after reading Unbowed, which was much more interesting than this. If you are interested in African issues, then this is a great book for you. But it's definitely a non-fiction read with a lot of facts, where i would much rather read fictio ...more
Kelsey McKim
Feb 23, 2014 Kelsey McKim rated it liked it
I read this for school. I thought Maathai made some interesting insights about some causes of the problems that African countries are facing that we (meaning rich Western nations/citizens) don't spend enough time thinking about when sending monetary, food, or other types of aid.

She seemed to feel the need to be grateful for Western aid and would sometimes pause her argument to explain that aid, though according to her argument it may be misguided, is helpful and well-intentioned. This interrupte
Jul 25, 2013 Kerubo is currently reading it
The first two chapters are riveting. Wangari Maathai speaks in a language that I can relate you. Easy, not complicated, not boring. It gives simple solutions. Calls for the need for connection to communities and the need for leaders to understand their communities. It decries the factors leading to Africa's present situation. She speaks of slavery, colonialism, poor leadership, greed, corruption but also laments of the culture that we lost with these events, the terming of African practices as b ...more
Prasanti Sarli
Oct 31, 2014 Prasanti Sarli rated it liked it
"Like a Nelson Mandela or a Mahatma Gandhi, Mathai stands way above most mortals"~Guardian

Wangari Mathai has a vision of a better world I wish everyone would agree on. She is an inspiration, he's optimism, passion and relentlessness in pursuing the right things to do is amiable. Despite this book probably not being the best piece of literature out there, it is still worth reading just to embrace the memory of this great woman, may she rest in peace. The challenge for Africa is not just a challen
Helen Noble
May 23, 2014 Helen Noble rated it it was amazing
Following on from Wangari Maatthai's autobiography 'Unbowed" I was eager to learn more from this Nobel Prize winner. She writes with a concise fluidity, punctuating her evocative prose with hard facts. This is a look to the future of the continent through the eyes of an educated, honest, hardworking heroine. She explains the past and creates a realistic vision for the future. To share in this vision would be to transform the beautiful continent into the thriving, resourceful and rich hub of cult ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Armando rated it really liked it
A lot of political talk. The book in general is very very interesting, but it was very difficult for me to understand everything she writes. Although she explains all her thoughts very well and shows the different political systems and how they work, it's not so easy if you have never had anything to do with politics. If you want to know how the politics in African countries is organized and how it evolved, this book is the one to read. She also shows ways that African people can help themselves ...more
May 06, 2015 Mohamed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
المساءلة والمسؤلية والعدالة والعمل حينما ينعدموا جميعا من قارة فاعلم انك فى أفريقيا !!
عندما تكون ضحية العولمة واتفاقيات التجارة العالمية فاعلم انك فى أفريقيا !!
القارة تعانى من متلازمة الحافلة الخطا ,دائما وابداً نسلك الطريق الخطا ,قارة من اساس سياساتها "الفائز ياخذ كل شئ" ,وعندما يتقاتل الجميع على الكعكة لن يتبقى الا الفتات.
أفريقيا تناقض !
الكتاب مليء بأمثلة من التاريخ الماضي والحالي على ما تم القيام به، وما يمكن القيام به لجعل أفريقيا افضل,الكتاب ايضا مهم من الناحية السياسية فهو يوضح كيف تسير ال
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN: 9780099539032 2 11 May 20, 2015 04:24PM  
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a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. In 1984, she was awarded ...more
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