A gripping account of both an individual caught on the horns of an excruciating moral dilemma and a continent at a turning point.
When Michela Wrong’s Kenyan friend John Githongo appeared one cold February morning on the doorstep of her London flat, carrying a small mountain of luggage, it was clear something had gone very wrong in a country regarded until then as one of Africa’s few budding success stories.Two years earlier, in the wave of euphoria that followed the election defeat of long-serving President Daniel arap Moi, John had been appointed Kenya’s new anti-corruption czar. In choosing this giant of a man, respected as a longstanding anti-corruption crusader, the new government was signalling that it was set on ending the practices that had made Kenya an international by-word for sleaze.Now John was on the run, having realised that the new administration, far from breaking with the past, was using near-identical techniques to pilfer public funds. John’s tale, which has all the elements of a political thriller, is the story of how a brave man came to make a lonely decision with huge ramifications. But his story transcends the personal, touching as it does on the cultural, historical and social themes that lie at the heart of the continent’s continuing crisis.
Tracking this story of an African whistleblower, Michela Wrong seeks answers to the questions that have puzzled outsiders for decades. What is it about African society that makes corruption so hard to eradicate, so sweeping in its scope, so destructive in its impact? Why have so many African presidents found it so easy to reduce all political discussion to the self-serving calculation of which tribe gets to ‘eat’? And at what stage will Africans start placing the wider interests of their nation ahead of the narrow interests of their tribe?
On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the Rushdie fatwa, From Fatwa to Jihad tells, for the first time, the full story of this defining episode and explores its repercussions and resonance through to contemporary debates about Islam, terrorism, free speech and Western values.
When a thousand Muslim protestors paraded through a British town with a copy of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses before ceremoniously burning the book, it was an act motivated by anger and offence as well as one calculated to shock and offend. It did more than that: the image of the burning book became an icon of the Muslim anger. Sent around the globe by photographers and TV cameras, the image announced a new world. Twenty years later, the questions raised by the Rushdie affair – Islam’s relationship to the West, the meaning of multiculturalism, the limits of tolerance in a liberal society – have become some of the defining issues of our time.
Taking the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa as his starting point, Kenan Malik examines how radical Islamhas gained hold in Muslim communities,how multiculturalism contributed to this, and how the Rushdie affair transformed the very nature of the debate on tolerance and free speech.
Why do so many people around the world appear willing to give up freedoms in return for security or prosperity? For the past 60 years it had been assumed that capitalism was intertwined with liberal democracy. But what happens when both are undermined?
Governments globally have drawn up a new pact with their peoples: repression is confined to the few who openly challenge the status quo. The rest of the population can enjoy freedom to live more or less as they wish, and to make and spend their money. This is the difference between public freedoms and private freedoms. We choose different freedoms we are prepared to cede. We all do it.
Freedom for Sale will set a new agenda. It will crucially ask why so many intelligent and ambitious citizens around the world seemed prepared to sacrifice freedom of the press and freedom of speech in their quest for wealth.
A woman in a township in Zimbabwe is surrounded by throngs of dusty children but longs for a baby of her own; an old man finds that his job making coffins at No Matter Funeral Parlour brings unexpected riches; a politician’s widow quietly stands by at her husband’s funeral watching his colleagues bury an empty coffin. Petina Gappah’s characters may have ordinary hopes and dreams, but they are living in a world where a loaf of bread costs half a million dollars; a country expected to have only four presidents in a hundred years; and a place where people know exactly what will be printed in the one and only daily newspaper because the news is always, always good.
In her spirited debut collection, Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah brings us the resilience and inventiveness of the people who struggle to live under Robert Mugabe’s regime. Despite their circumstances, the characters in An Elegy for Easterly are more than victims; they are all too human, with as much capacity to inflict pain as they have to endure it. They struggle with larger issues common to all people everywhere: failed promises, unfulfilled dreams and the yearning for something to anchor them to life.
What is the meaning of love and death in a remote, forgotten, impossibly conflicted part of the world? In Rebel Land the acclaimed author and journalist Christopher de Bellaigue journeys to Turkey’s inhospitable eastern provinces to find out. Immersing himself in the achingly beautiful district of Varto, a place left behind in Turkey’s march to modernity, medieval in its attachment to race and religious sect, he explores the violent history of conflict between Turks, Kurds and Armenians, and the maelstrom, of emotion and memories, that defines its inhabitants even today.
The result is a compellingly personal account of one man’s search into the past, as de Bellaigue, mistrusted by all he meets, and particularly by the secret agents of the State, applies his investigative flair and fluent Turkish to unlock jealously-guarded taboos and hold humanity’s excesses up to the light of a very modern sensibility.