Review: Speaking Truth to Power; Selected Pan-African Postcards
The first thing that crossed my mind when I read this book was: wow! Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is one of those brilliant African minds that was once again cut short far too early, sadly on the streets of Nairobi. What a great loss for anyone who believes in the dream of African mental and physical freedom. The book itself is a collection of short pieces that he wrote under the banner headline “Pan-African Postcards” for the Pambazuka website. The topics vary from discussions on the vision of Pan-Africanism, to critiques of individual African nations and leaders, to criticism of the Aid Establishment (which some would argue he eventually became a part of, but more on that later). Abdul-Raheem was clearly a passionate and eloquent activist and he knew his stuff. He inspires me so much – I only wish that I can eventually be the kind of activist that he was.
There’s really something for everyone who has an interest in Africa in this book, and he writes with an approachable sincerity that draws you in and keeps you hooked. The book is never condescending or overly academic, just knowledgable and acerbic enough to get you thinking things through twice. My favourite are his observations on Pan-Africanism – the machinations of Brother Gaddaffi, the continually lacklustre performance of Obasanjo in Nigeria, the hypocrisy and greed of the Kenyan political establishment, the eventual betrayal of Nyerere’s Pan-African dreams by subsequent Tanzanian leaders, and Museveni. I don’t think there’s a phrase short enough to cover just how much Abdul-Raheem is disappointed with the former rebel and visionary that is today Museveni. And he’s right on all scores. Museveni believed his own hype and sold out, like Macy’s on Black Friday (I just made that up – how clever am I?)
All in all, thoroughly recommended reading for anyone who has even a remote interest in understanding what Africa looks like for Africans. That is to say, we know it’s messed up, we know what’s wrong with it, we don’t need you breathing down our necks reminding us, just help us fix it with honesty and sincerity.
Awesome book! WOW!