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Edem Kodjo - «Africa Tomorrow» - Kirkus Review

Authors:
  • National Book Critics Circle

Abstract

From the ex-Secretary of the Organization of African Unity, a heralding of the continent's political and socioeconomic future as a United States of Africa (Kirkus Reviews, July 24, 1987)
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Kirkus Reviews
AFRICA TOMORROW
By
Pub Date: July 24th, 1987
Publisher: Continuum
From the ex-Secretary of the Organization of African Unity, a heralding of
the continent's political and socioeconomic future as a United States of
Africa. Kodjo's call to arms divides into three parts. The first pertains to
Africa's ""Yesterday,"" a not-quite-credibly Edenic time when Egypt stood
poised at the confluence of both European and African culture and
Ethiopia spearheaded her imperial glory--an Africa at once the cradle and
the grave of humanity. There's something strident in this insistence upon
""the antecedence of Africa,"" though, a kind of counter-chauvinism more suggestive of an inferiority
complex than anything else. The second part reels from past glories to present misery. ""Africa Today""--a
paradox of abundance and abjection, ""potentially everything and practically nothing,"" fertile yet fallow,
independent but not yet free--this Africa is more in keeping with our own stereotyped media image: the
starving child with the bloated belly and sunken, listless eyes, ""a carcass quick with flies."" Transcending
these Africas, Kodjo envisions a resurrected Africa of the future. Boasting fully one-fifth of the world's
inhabitants and as much of its terrain, ""Africa Tomorrow,"" Kodjo contends, will be at the economic and
geographic crossroads of history, the epicenter of the planet, eye of the coming storm. Kodjo, patriotic if
not nationalistic, implores emergent Africa to stand united--or else, continuing divided, to fall. A very
French book, not least in the extent to which it credits the notion that ""ideas play a cardinal role in the
transformation of the world."" Kodjo brings an armature of erudition to bear upon his subject, though
his scholarship seems secondhand, his manner reminiscent of the ""village explainer,"" the flavor of the
writing like so much leftover lecture material from the Sorbonne, and the Pan-Africanist agitprop and
OAU axe-grinding at times almost on the level of pamphleteering. Kodjo's reach exceeds his grasp, but
then that's what a prophet's for.
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