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The Challenge for Africa (عالم المعرفة #410)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  373 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and p ...more
ebook, 190 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2009)
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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
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
Daniel Kibsgaard
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
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
S. Nelson
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
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
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
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
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.

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).
Wangari Mwangi
Brilliant work (book) of Wangari Mathaai. she calls a spade by its name, and not big spoon.
a must read for any African.
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
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
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
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
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
Nov 24, 2013 Tinea rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Helen Noble
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
Kelsey McKim
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
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
Azania Zulu
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.
Prasanti Sarli
"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
Jul 25, 2013 Kerubo is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mark Butt
Showcases the complicated history and deep rooted issues with Africa originating from its past and impacting the present.
Mohamed Ibrahim
صرخة من افريقيا
كتاب رائع من شخصسية تتضح انها عبقرية وذلك من خلالل محتوى الكتاب
I had to persevere with this book; initially I found it a little bland and uninspiring; its descriptions of African troubles, I thought, where limited and almost insultingly basic.

I am pleased to say it got better. Wangari Maathai has a vision for Africa which is based on independence but responsibility. She doesnt seek to blame individuals or groups for Africa's problems but instead looks to guide those groups who can make a difference.

Her chapters on environment - unsurprinsingly- and the Afri
Ahmad A. Mageed
صرخة أفريقية سمراء
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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
More about Wangari Maathai...

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