Profile for A Customer > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by A Customer
Top Reviewer Ranking: 426,825
Helpful Votes: 15

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
A Customer (Overland Park, Kansas USA)
(REAL NAME)   

Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
by Deborah Brautigam
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 22.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A new light on a topic of great interest, Nov. 20 2009
American University Professor Deborah Brautigam writes that China is listening to Africa.

All good relationships involve communication. In the past. when South Africa complained about the "tsunami" of textiles from China, Beijing agreed to voluntary export restraints. When Zambian workers rioted at Chinese-owned mines, Chinese officials openly criticized the owners' labor practices. There are clearly rocky areas in this relationship, but on balance, Brautigam sees more on the positive side of the ledger that the Chinese are doing well by Africa.

Brautigam believes it is up to Africans to ensure that the net result for Africa is good. China's huge demand for Africa's commodities has created new opportunities for African governments to realize the hopes of their people for a better life. Countries that set their house in order, can position themselves to benefit, and those that do not will find their resources continue to be simply a "curse"--with or without China.

China has ratcheted up its manufacturing investment in Africa, where new industries were sorely needed to counter decades of deindustrialization. China has established investment funds to promote Chinese investment in Africa. Teams from China have visited Mauritius, South Africa, and elsewhere - scouting locations for enterprise zones and industrial districts, which would join Chinese industrial zones in Ethiopia, Zambia, and Nigeria, and Chinese factories making batteries in Mozambique, shoes in Nigeria, ethyl alcohol in Benin, and a host of other products across the continent.

Chinese factories offer not only jobs--they also use production technologies that African entrepreneurs can easily adopt. Chinese firms act as catalysts and models for the African Diaspora to invest their investment capital in Africa. Taiwanese and Hong Kong firms stimulated a rush of copy-cat local investment in Nigeria and were catalysts for the boom of local investment in the "Mauritius miracle" of the 1980s and 1990s. Brautigam says let's have more of this.

This well-timed book, by one of the world's leading experts, provides the first comprehensive account of China's aid and economic cooperation overseas. Deborah Brautigam tackles the myths and realities, explaining what the Chinese are investing, how they are contributing to African Industrialization and agribusiness, how they do it, how much aid they give, and how it all fits into their "going global" strategy. Drawing on three decades of experience in China and Africa, and hundreds of interviews in Africa, China, Europe and the U.S., Brautigam shines new light on a topic of great interest.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Changing Face of Chinese Engagement in Africa; 1. Missionaries and Maoists: How China Moved from "Red" to "Expert"; 2. Feeling the Stones: Deng Xiaoping's Aid Experiments; 3. Going Global: Foreign Aid in the Toolkit of a Rising China; 4. Eastern Promises: An Aid System with Chinese Characteristics; 5. Orient Express: How Does Chinese Aid and Engagement Work?; 6. Apples and Lychees: How Much Aid Does China Give?; 7. Flying Geese, Crouching Tiger: China's Changing Role in African Industrialization; 8. Asian Tsunami: How a Tidal Wave can also be a Catalyst; 9. Exporting Green Revolution: From Aid to Agribusiness; 10. Foreign Farmers: Chinese Settlers, African Plantations; 11. Rogue Donor? Myths and Realities of Chinese Aid and Engagement; Conclusion: Engaging China

Africa's Greatest Entrepreneurs
Africa's Greatest Entrepreneurs
by Moky Makura
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 17.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Sixteen Case Studies, April 22 2009
Moky Makura was born in Nigeria, educated in England and now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. A TV presenter/producer, writer and a successful businesswoman in her own right, Moky Makura holds an honours degree in Politics, Economics and Law from Buckingham University in the UK.

From 2001 to 2006, Moky Makura was the African Anchor presenter and field reporter for South Africa's award winning news and actuality show - Carte Blanche. She has presented numerous field reports on Africa and Nigeria in particular; including stories on the Nigerian Film industry; Zimbabwean farmers in Kwara, People trafficking in Edo State, Child soldiers in the DRC and Democracy in Zimbabwe She has conducted interviews with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Chinua Achebe, Femi Kuti, Danny Glover and Seal.

In 2004, Moky Makura presented an hour long interview format show called African Pioneers which was syndicated to commercial stations in 5 African countries including Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi. In 2005, she hosted a 26 part marketing show on the South African business channel; Summit TV. She is currently appearing in the ground breaking Pan-African drama series on M-Net called Jacob's Cross.
Moky Makura is an editorial contributor to various magazines on African related subjects including The Business Day; Maverick Magazine, O Magazine and Tribute Magazine.

She is also producer and presenter on an entertainment TV series called "Living it", which focuses on the lifestyle's of the continent's wealthy elite. As part of her passion to present a positive image of Africa and showcase its heroes and achievements, she has started a website where visitors can contribute to creating a repository of all the positive aspects about Africa.

Moky set about finding and interviewing some of the continent's bravest and most successful entrepreneurs and recently completed a book; Africa's Greatest Entrepreneurs which features the success stories of the top entrepreneurs on the continent.

Africa's Greatest Entrepreneurs comprises a series of profiles on 16 of some of the most successful and dynamic business people to have emerged from across Africa, with a diverse range of ages and educational backgrounds.

The first chapter is about (1) Wale Tinubu, who began an oil trading business working out of an office that doubled as his family's garage. Using a loan from his mother as capital to build Oando, today, the company has a market capitalisation of $2bn and a presence in the industry across most of West Africa with interests in exploration, refining, distribution and power plant development. This might sound like an extraordinary rags-to-riches story, but plenty more follow.

We next learn about Ghana's (2) Prince Kofi Amoabeng, who dropped a military career to pursue a profession in finance, evolving from an introductory service linking friends who had money to invest with those that needed to borrow for their businesses. Today, Amoabeng is the chief executive of Unique Trust, a company with a near $30m turnover and 300 employees, ranked as one of Ghana's best-performing companies.

Makura next profiles the extraordinary story of (3) Mo Ibrahim, one of the pioneers of Africa's mobile phone revolution. In fact, Makura was at one time the public relation's director at Ibrahim's company Celtel, which perhaps explains why, although Ibrahim says he simply has "no heroes in the business world" and is honestly irritated by what he calls the idolising of business leaders, he was still prepared to be a subject for this book.

(4) Kwabena Adjei's of Ghana is one of the book's stranger stories. He is the chief executive of Kasapreko Co Ltd, a company with a $30m turnover. It began by creating a herbal remedy, Alomo Bitters, that not only claimed to cure malaria but also help men's sexual performance!

(5) Herman Mashaba is the 50-year-old South African founder of Black Like Me, an extremely successful cosmetics company with a R2bn (approx $200m) turnover. This is the first of a number of South African entrepreneurs in the book who had to contend with the many obstacles thrown up in the path of black businesspeople by the apartheid system.

Other entrepreneurs had other challenges, such as (6) Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, the founder and chairman of Econet Group, the second telecoms pioneer to be featured in this book. Masiyiwa spent five years in an epic legal battle with the Zimbabwean government to win a GSM licence that finally loosened the state's stranglehold on the country's telecom sector.

(7) Kagiso Mmusi is the founder and executive chairman of Pula Holdings, a diversified holding company with total assets of around Pulal70m ($20.83m). Mmusi is from a famous Botswana family, his father Peter having been Sir Ketumile Masire's vice-president, but his story is less about privilege, more about self-discipline and tenacity. Mmusi began by operating a single petrol station 19 years ago to build one of Botswana's largest home-grown companies.

Sadly, (8) Miko Rwayitare died in 2007, but his remarkable story is told by a close friend, Dr Gabriel Twagira. Rwayitare is the third telecoms pioneer in the book. An electrical engineer, he was perhaps the first African to spot the potential of mobile phone technology building the first pan-African mobile phone network and the first person in Africa to make a mobile phone call.

After selling a major share of the company he founded, Telecel, to the Egyptian-based Orascom, Rwayitare diversified into hotels and was also passionate about the potential of his investment in Goal Technology Solutions, which promised to deliver affordable broadband to almost every home in South Africa by using the national grid power lines.

(9) Nigel Chanakira, like his compatriot Strive Masiyiwa, had to contend with the opposition of the Zimbabwean authorities. Chanakira built a successful financial holdings company - Kingdom Financial Holdings (KFH) - but "got into trouble" when he began to comment on the country's economic policies.
He fled to South Africa in 2001, during his exile building KFH businesses in Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.

He took the chance to return to Zimbabwe in 2004. Most commercial banks were in serious trouble, and KFH was on the brink of failing, but Strive Masiyiwa bought a 25% stake in the business and Chanakira achieved a merger with Meikles Group, one of Zimbabwe's foremost conglomerates.

The resulting conglomerate, Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd, has ambitions for a New York listing and wants to raise US$l billion for expansion plans.

(10) Regi Mengi, the Tanzanian media magnate, has an unlikely story. From a humble rural home he did well at school, and joined Coopers, the accountancy firm. But his ambitions were far greater than the accountancy profession.

Like many successful business stories, Mengi's begins with spotting a business opportunity - he was unable to buy a ballpoint pen in Dar es Salaam. The government would not permit the importation of finished pens but he could bring in component parts. From this initial business venture Mengi built a business empire in East Africa with interests in manufacturing, mining, bottling as well as broadcast and print media.

Uganda's (11) Gordon Wavamunno has a story that closely mirrors the fortunes of his country. From an early age, Wavamunno knew he wanted to be a businessman, and he began by trading in agricultural produce, building a business that secured the Ugandan Mercedes Benz distributorship and encompassed transport, hotels and tourism.

Then the turbulent years of the Obote/Amin era saw his efforts almost completely dashed but, undeterred, he resolved to build up his company, Spear Group, again. He persuaded Mercedes Benz to retain him, then moved into textiles and clothing.

Since then he has added broadcast media as well as banking, bottled water and pharmaceuticals to his rapidly expanding portfolio, winning the coveted Ugandan Businessman of the Year award for seven years running.

Pamodzi Investment Holdings, one of South Africa's first black-owned and run investment companies, successfully raised $1.3bn in 2007 to become the country's largest private equity fund. At the helm of Pamodzi is chief executive (12) Ndaba Ntsele, who has another rags-to-riches story, growing up in Soweto and learning business basics at his aunt's small store.

Taking a job as a local government clerk, in his spare time he traded clothes, moved into construction, sold jewellery and electronic equipment and won the Nike concession for the South Africa market.

Ntsele and his partner Solly Sithole then created Pamodzi Investment Holdings, buying a hospital, then subsequently investing in a sports marketing company, catering, télécoms, fleet management, finance, IT, automobiles and mining.

Four more southern African business success stories complete this book, two from South Africa itself: (13) Keith Kunene and (14) Richard Maponya as well as (15) Geoffrey Mwamba from Zambia and (16) Daniel David of Mozambique.

(13) Kunene, along with his four brothers, carved out a business fortune by getting into university, qualifying in law and starting a business, Kunene Brothers Holdings, with interests in bottling, financial services, business consulting and the motor industry as well as becoming the largest Coca Cola distributor in South Africa.

(14) Maponya, the executive chairman and MD of Maponya Group, is described as one of South Africa's best loved entrepreneurs. Now in his eighties, Maponya is the man behind the Maponya Mall, his R650m shopping complex in Soweto and it all started about 65 years ago when the young Maponya diverted water from a river by his father's land in Limpopo to grow and sell vegetables.

Leaving school to join a clothing factory, he also started to sell clothes and (after a legal battle in which he was represented by Oliver Tambo) the apartheid state gave him leave to start a business in Soweto selling "daily necessities". This allowed him to set up a milk business employing five people which grew into a chain of eight discount supermarkets, each grossing about R3m a month, employing a total of 170 people.

(15) Geoffrey Mwamba of the GBM Group currently owns and runs Zambia's secondlargest maize mill, a 28-strong luxury bus fleet, a traditional beer brewery, and markets foodstuffs. He also plays the money markets. However, although the son of Zambia's first African minister of agriculture, this 50-year-old entrepreneur began his business empire with a $1,000 loan from his mother.

The book's final chapter introduces us to Mozambique's (16) David. Returning from a stint as a miner in South Africa, David stumbled into the entertainment industry, promoting music bands and then theatre shows.

David then found a job at the state broadcast company TVM as an admin assistant, rising to become the marketing director. Starting a small marketing company of his own in 1999, Visao, two years later he resigned from TVM to focus on consultancy before becoming a conference organiser.

He then hit upon the idea of launching a TV station, found a partner who could provide the broadcast equipment for a share of the business and scraped the money together to start Soico TV, later adding Soico FM, both incredibly successful ventures.

At the age of just 40, David is a media mogul and has joined the ranks of Africa's greatest entrepreneurs.

Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think
Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think
by Vijay Mahajan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.30
18 used & new from CDN$ 23.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review by Clar Ni Chonghaile, Reuters, 9.11.08, Nov. 14 2008
Congratulations to Professor Vijay Mahajan on an excellent book about the entrepreneurs in Africa that are creating jobs and improving the quality of life in Africa. I especially appreciated the author's emphasis on marketing in his book. I have been waiting for an author to write a book like Professor Vijay Mahajan has. Thank you Professor Vijay Mahajan. Pasted below is an Africa Rising book review I found of interest.

"Business Books: Africa's need is good for business", Book Review by Clar Ni Chonghaile, Reuters, 9.11.08,

Africa may be a needy continent but this need offers rich rewards for businesses that are daring, innovative and flexible enough to grapple with poor infrastructure, underdeveloped markets and volatile politics.

This is the premise of a new book, "Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Can Offer More Than You Think" (Wharton School Publishing, $29.99).

Author Vijay Mahajan, who holds the John P. Harbin Centennial Chair in Business at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, debunks traditional stereotypes about a continent that is starting to beep ever louder on the radars of global investors.

His book, published this month, is built around interviews with African and expatriate business people across the continent, including producers of consumer goods, alcohol, soft drinks, airline firms and retailers.

"(Many entrepreneurs) were tired of the media reporting too many negative stories about Africa ... if something happened in one country, all Africa was on fire. They were saying 'how come our story doesn't get out?"' he told Reuters in an interview.

High commodity prices, greater political stability in many countries, fewer wars, better communications and economic growth of around 6.5 percent have helped lure new investment, often from China and other emerging countries, primarily for resources such as oil and gas.

Mahajan says Africa's 900 million plus people in 53 countries offer much as a market -- they need to eat, they need clean water, clothing and medicine and they want cell phones, bicycles and computers.

If Africa were a single country, according to World Bank data, it would have had $978 billion total gross national income in 2006, placing it ahead of India.

"You cannot ignore that chunk ... if you are a company that has ambitions of being global," he told Reuters.

But you have to be nimble.

"HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT"

His book is at its best when it exposes the nitty-gritty of marketing, distributing and selling in African countries.

He cites the example of Zimbabwean company Innscor which operates the restaurant chain Steers in that country. Short of foreign exchange, it got into crocodile farming and became one of the world's biggest producers of crocodile meat and skins.

In Zambia, he writes, Gillette put some 18,000 young men on bicycles to sell small cards with five of its inexpensive double-edged blades -- they took the product all over the country, increasing sales from 5,000 to 750,000 units in 2004.

"Entrepreneurs solve problems," writes Mahajan. "Take away electricity and they sell generators. Take away a stable financial system and they make their money on speculating on foreign currency. Take away their employment and they set up kiosks in the street."

And he argues that the development of consumer markets through this kind of innovation may be a more powerful driver of long-term progress than political reform.

The book is timely, tapping into investor optimism about Africa -- a feeling that does not seem to have been badly dented by political crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya, war in Somalia or a coup in Mauritania.

Mahajan wants to open people's eyes to Africa's rise, which he says is "hidden in plain sight." He also cites the importance of the vast African diaspora, both for marketing and because of the billions of dollars they send home each year.

Some might argue that businesses alone cannot lift Africa out of poverty, especially multinationals which are sometimes accused by African politicians and others of neo-colonialism.

Mahajan acknowledges his vision is "very optimistic" and he is aware of the obstacles to development: HIV/AIDS, the lack of clean water, diseases like malaria, not enough schools.

He says those who want to do business in Africa need to recognise that social entrepreneurship and involvement in local communities must be part of their business plan.

The book's tone is upbeat, but there is also caution: Africa is not for the faint of heart.

"It is for entrepreneurs and companies that recognise that where there are obstacles that might discourage others, there are opportunities for those who can persevere," Mahajan writes.

Or as Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born founder of one of Africa's most successful companies, Celtel International, is quoted as saying: "In business, when there is a gap between reality and perception, there is good business to be made." [...])

28: Stories of AIDS in Africa
28: Stories of AIDS in Africa
by Stephanie Nolen
Edition: Hardcover
29 used & new from CDN$ 3.62

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nolen tells stories that stop you from totally giving up on humanity, Aug. 5 2007
Nolen tells stories that stop you from totally giving up on humanity - from the tireless doctors who treat Aids patients to the campaigners who refuse to buy their own medication until it is freely available to all.

In Bukavu, South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Christine Amisi, for example, left the safety of a UN compound to continue her work as a nurse for Doctors without Borders to ensure that her patients got supplies of drugs. Christine assisted in Doctors without Borders' anti-retroviral trials in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country torn apart by civil war.

Nolen points out that there is a very real risk of creating drug-resistant strains of HIV should patients not exercise compliance in treatment; this is one of the challenges often cited in treating AIDS in unstable countries like the Congo. And yet, what did Doctors without Borders find? Patients had, in the long term, a 97 per cent adherence rate--taking their pills correctly and on time -- which is higher than the rate at most treatment sites in North America. Only 5 per cent of them had been "lost to follow-up," that is, stopped showing up and became untraceable -- again, a number about on par with North America, and remarkable for war zone.

In Bukavu, South Kivu, Doctors without Borders provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS care with counselling, testing and treatment of opportunistic infections, as well as antiretroviral treatment (ART). Doctors without Borders has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1981. Dr James Orbinski, who was president of Doctors without Borders when the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, says of Nolen's book: "Read. Weep. Rage. And above all else - like those people described in this book - find the courage to do."

Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity
Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity
by David Fick
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 83.02
17 used & new from CDN$ 8.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Day in the Sun for Africa's Hard-Nosed Entrepreneurs By Mwiti Marete, July 22 2007
The New Times
BOOK REVIEW
February 11, 2007
By Mwiti Marete
Kigali, Rwanda

Day in the Sun for Africa's Hard-Nosed Entrepreneurs

David Fick's "Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity" reads like a "Who is Who" list of hard-nosed African entrepreneurs who have fished in life's dustbins and weathered the elements with astounding results.

The 512-page volume is based on his belief that the second largest continent has immense potential that only waits to be tapped, and his confidence in her citizens' creativity, resilience and industry.

"While many write off Africa as the continent of despair, other enterprising individuals and organisations have recognized the huge, untapped potential of Africa and are actively pursuing business ventures across the continent," says the book.

The book features brief descriptions of these successful entrepreneurs and their ongoing enterprises in Africa. Each story captures the spirit behind these successes and highlights how they are not only creating countless job opportunities in 53 African countries but also bringing immeasurable improvement to the quality of life in African communities

Recognising the African entrepreneurs who are making dreams come true - albeit the hard way - Fick says he wrote the book to create awareness on the obstacles and successes of entrepreneurship in Africa, "to tell the story of people and their communities that are successful in developing Africa".

"By sounding out African entrepreneurs about the visions they harbour of their continent, I have tried to present the successes and the philosophies of these entrepreneurs, and also the philosophies of the economists, educators and political readers who are interested in developing Africa to its full potential for the benefit of Africans and the world," Fick writes.

And he is optimistic.

"'Old' Africa is well known for its many challenges," writes Fick. "In a 'new' Africa, the continent's challenges will be addressed and overcome with new strategies, new approaches and new ways of doing things, in order for Africa's vast opportunities to be exploited for the benefit of its entire people."

Besides calling for the developed world to come to Africa's aid, he prescribes regional cooperation as the cure for the continent's many woes.

"A successful AU will empower all of Africa, not merely the strong countries," Fick observes, and predicts: "Africa's abundant resources will then benefit the health, education and wellbeing of all Africans." He concludes with an array of proposals on how to make life on the continent brighter - aptly called "Africa's Future"............................................

What "Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity" offers is a rich menu of information - and inspiration - for readers across the divide: policy makers, practising and potential entrepreneurs, scholars, and leisure seekers. Simply put, it is Africa's newest package for global consumption.

For the optimistic, it reinforces their resolve to make Africa a better place for all; for the pessimist, it is a jolting disproval of the old, misplaced depiction of Africa as "the Dark Continent".

And few can be as authoritative on the issues addressed in this book as David S. Fick, a graduate of Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania who has spent his entire business career as an entrepreneur in Kansas and has travelled widely, including to Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. He has visited Africa's other 50 countries via research by means of the Internet and e-mail correspondence, corresponding with entrepreneurs in all the 53 countries and asking for their corrections and improvements to their rough draft text.

Add this to the rich bibliography of speeches by international opinion leaders and reports by credible international bodies and the Media.

And true to his confessed passion for a vibrant economic environment in Africa, Fick has published with an African firm, and his distributors are selected from local booksellers, according to an earlier e-mail interview with this writer. Again, the book is not a money-making venture: the author has donated his entire royalties to charity. To cap it all, the cover illustration is derived from the artwork "Africa Connections", a batik by Nuwa Nnyanzi from Uganda.

Angels in Africa: Profiles of Seven Extraordinary Women
Angels in Africa: Profiles of Seven Extraordinary Women
by Beth O'Donnell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.35
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.25

5.0 out of 5 stars "extraordinary" ordinary women of Africa, June 30 2007
ANGELS IN AFRICA: Profiles of Seven Extraordinary Women (October 2006) by Beth O'Donnell & Kimberley Sevcik, documents seven African women working to overcome devastating problems in their African communities. Organized by country, each chapter of Angels in Africa introduces us to a remarkable woman who is tackling an issue that is particularly prevalent in that country. Ann Wanjiru represents 2,000 grassroots women of Kenya and is an AIDS caregiver in Nairobi's Mathare slum; In Tanzania, a conservationist Edina Yahana helped plant more than one million trees in an effort to save the rainforests from decimation; Celina Cossa, the president of an agricultural cooperative fighting hunger in Mozambique, is one of the most respected women in Africa; In Rwanda, Pascasie Mukamunigo, a Tutsi woman brings together the Hutus and Tutsis through a community weaving project; We learn about the work of Prudence Mwandla of South Africa, who has dedicated her life to sheltering AIDS orphans who had been abused, abandoned, sick, and hungry; Aminata Dieye, a women's rights crusader in Senegal, created a program that trains young girls in non-traditional jobs. In Senegal, that's not an easy thing to do; and Mme Dembélé Jacqueline Goïta is an educator of impoverished young girls in Mali -- these are the "extraordinary" ordinary women of Angels in Africa. Beth O'Donnell's photography shows the beauty in the strength of character of these women. Kimberley Sevcik's laudatory text is inspiring.

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
by M.G. Vassanji
Edition: Hardcover
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kenyan-Born Author Wins Giller Prize, Nov. 6 2003
Kenyan-Born Author Wins Giller Prize
At a glitzy, gala ceremony attended by Canada's literati, Kenyan-born former physicist M.G. Vassanji was awarded the 2003 Giller Prize, Canada's most glamorous and lucrative literary award.
Vassanji took home the C$25,000 prize for his novel, "The In-Between World of Vikram Lall." The author won the inaugural Giller Prize in 1994 for his novel, "The Book of Secrets."
The author, who was raised in Tanzania, expressed his surprise at winning the prize a second time.
"I feel dazed and numb," Vassanji told Reuters. "The first prize was a bit harder and the second prize feels like a bonus. It is unbelievable. I may wake up tomorrow and find that it wasn't the case and it wouldn't bother me at all ... writing is about writing, not about prizes."
The Giller Prize, now in its 10th year, was announced at Toronto's Four Season's Hotel on Tuesday night in front of 500 members of Canada's publishing, media and arts community. It is awarded annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story published in English.
The jury described the novel as a "powerful and haunting story of an Indian family living in the turbulence of an emergent Kenya."
Vassanji beat Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood, who was shortlisted for her novel, "Oryx and Crake." Atwood won the Giller Prize in 1996 for "Alias Grace." Other contenders for the prize included John Bemrose, John Gould, Ann-Marie MacDonald.
Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch established the award in 1994 in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller.

Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda: Economy, Society, and Warfare in the Nineteenth Century
Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda: Economy, Society, and Warfare in the Nineteenth Century
by Richard J. Reid
Edition: Hardcover
8 used & new from CDN$ 39.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What exactly was special about Pre-Colonial Buganda?, Oct. 13 2003
Blessed with fertile and well-watered soil, East Africa's kingdom of Buganda supported a relatively dense population and became a major regional power by the mid-nineteenth century. This complex and fascinating state has also long been in need of a thorough study that cuts through the image of autocracy and military might. Most studies of the kingdom have focused on the political power of central institutions and the ruling elite.
Most political studies have emphasized that the strength of the Buganda kingdom has its roots in the way it was reformed by Sekabaka Kintu in the fifteenth century when he defeated Sekabaka Bbemba and established the current dynasty. Kintu decided to make the monarchy an all-inclusive pro-people institution. By establishing it along a clan system in terms of culture and creating administrative pillars for political governance. Unlike the neighboring kingdoms where there was a single ruling clan, in Buganda all the clans are eligible to producing a Kabaka. This is because the Kabaka alone takes after his mother's clan while the rest of the Baganda follow their fathers' clans. In Buganda it is taboo for one to marry from one's clan. Hence the sharing of the throne by all clans. Kintu also allocated specific duties to clans in the palace and all clans are considered equal before the throne. The administration was based on counties, sub-counties, parishes, and down to the villages. The occupants of those offices had to be of impeccable character. It was because of that, that the kingdom became stronger and popular because the people looked at the Kabakaship as their own culturally, socially and politically. Culturally because the Kabaka is the head of all clan, and custodian of all the customs and traditional keeper, politically because he is the pinnacle of the pyramid.
Political Power in Pre-Colonial Buganda explores the material basis of Ganda political power, examining in particular land, labor, commerce, and military change. The book gives us a new understanding of what Ganda power meant in real terms, and relates the story of how the kingdom used the resources at its disposal to meet the challenges that confronted it. Reid further explains how these same challenges ultimately limited Buganda's dominance of the East African Great Lakes region.
Buganda was one of the largest, most powerful polities in pre-colonial East Africa. It is also one of the most studied, although mainly a generation ago, and with an overwhelmingly political focus. Reid offers a welcome, ambitious break from this norm in this book on the material and military bases of political power in 19th-century Buganda, especially post-1850.
Emphasizing abundance and diversity, Part 1 examines the overall Ganda economy and the kinds of raw materials and economic resources which nineteenth century Buganda had at its disposal, and how the control and utilization of these led to political, social and cultural development. Reid describes how the evolution of Buganda owed much to the individual's relative economic freedom, in terms of both commercial activity and production. Its textile and metal working industries placed Buganda at the center of a thriving commercial system.
Part 2 focuses on the organization of public labor in the construction of roads and buildings, the development of state taxation, and relationship between particular professional and social groups within the labor system. The utilization of human beings compelled Ganda society to consider such concepts as liberty and slavery. However, Reid emphasizes that the Ganda system was never inflexible, and that individuals, free and otherwise, might aspire to higher status whatever their starting point.
Part 3 highlights the central importance of domestic, regional and long-distance trade to Buganda's material wealth and power. First, long-established domestic and regional trade, then 19th-century long-distance commerce connected with the East African coast, transformed Buganda's economy and foreign relations, both augmenting and undermining the wealth and power of the kingdom and its central authority. Reid points out that the Ganda were vigorous traders and that the kingdom to some extent owed it regional dominance in the nineteenth century to its commercial strength.
Finally, in Part 4, Reid turns to military organization, including the constitution of the army, the development of weaponry and the impact of firearms. Reid argues that the development of a naval fleet of enormous canoes in the nineteenth century, which had its origins in Buganda's ancient fishing communities, was created in order to compensate for military failure on land and to control long-distance trade, which had become vital to the kingdom. The Ganda army seems to have become excessively organized burdened by hierarchy and obsessed with structural detail.
Reid's book is well researched and he effectively demonstrates the influence the economy had on the type of state that pre-colonial Buganda became. Buganda still has much to offer the interested historian. Hopefully Reid's interpretation of reasons for the pre-colonial phenomena of Ganda organization, expansion and decline will kindle new interest and further debate concerning what exactly was special about Buganda in the nineteenth century.

In Defense of Global Capitalism
In Defense of Global Capitalism
by Johan Norberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.36
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Summary of In Defence of Global Capitalism, Oct. 8 2003
The first book to rebut - systematically and thoroughly - the world picture and tenets of the anti-globalisation movement has been written by a 27-year-old Swede - and former anarchist. It quickly became a bestseller in Sweden after its publication in May 2001, and now there is this English version.
For some time, opponents of globalisation have been able to spread myths about capitalism. They say that free trade and free markets make the world a more unequal place, that capitalism holds people in poverty, that economic growth harms the environment, that multinational corporations keep wages and labour standards on a low level, and that free financial markets cause crises.
This is not correct. In Defence of Global Capitalism is the book that systematically challenges and refutes the anti-capitalist assumptions. With hard facts, statistics and simple graphs, Johan Norberg explains why capitalism is in the process of creating a better world. But the book is also personally written, with an emphasis on values, and the fact that globalisation gives opportunities and freedom to the world's poor. The book illustrates this with concrete examples of people and countries that have prospered thanks to globalisation, and those that have suffered because of isolation.
Johan Norberg shows that the diffusion of capitalism in the last decades has lowered poverty rates and created opportunities for individuals all over the world. Living standards and life expectancy has risen fast in most places. World hunger, infant mortality and inequality have diminished. This is because of an economic and technological development that is the result of free market policies. The poor countries that have liberalized their economies have shown impressive results, while those that have not are stuck in deep misery. Therefore, we need more capitalism and globalisation if we want a better world, not less.
The Swedish writer, Johan Norberg, has an MA in history of ideas. He is the author of books on human rights, the history of liberalism and the Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg. Johan Norberg is devoted to globalisation and individual liberty. ...

Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa
Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa
by Tanya Shaffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.83
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars "Sand Angel", June 6 2003
Thank you Tanya for sharing your experiences with your readers. It was a joy to travel with you through Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya and Tanzania.
In Tanya's chapter 14 "Sand Angel", Tanya tells the true story of her journey up West Africa's Niger River to the legendary trade mecca of Timbuktu. When a tragic boat accident leaves the survivors stranded in a marshy, mosquito-ridden no-man's-land, they are forced to travel by canoe, relying on the generosity of nomadic fisher tribes for food and shelter. An unlikely trio of friendship springs up between Tanya (the only foreigner on the boat), an aspiring minister named Yaya, and a former drug-dealer named Touré. Passion, friendship, guilt, and redemption intermingle in this startling, often hilarious tale of a white woman traveling in Africa.
Best Regards, David S. Fick,
...

Page: 1 | 2 | 3