Africa in Transition
The Journey from Traditional to Modern

By George Coulter
December 2011
Book Guild
Distributed by Trans-Atlantic Publications
ISBN: 9781846246326
352 pages
$36.50 Hardcover

George Coulter spent a working lifetime in Africa, watching the process of aid development as it met with varying success from the 1950s to the 1990s. He specialised in fish biology, and saw at first hand how western ideas about commerce and technology did not always sit well with traditional fishing communities. He was an ecologist ahead of his time, in realising that aid agencies should not try to impose western solutions on African problems to replace the old ways, but instead should aim to develop those old ways and build on them.

This book sets out his ideas in clear and concise terms. It makes the important point that development is achieved by cultural change, not simply by supplying aid money and technology. A uniqe eyewitness account is given of tribal genocide in Burundi. The bloody civil war between Hutu and Tutsi in 1982 passed almost unnoticed by the western media at the time, but prefigured the later Rwandan massacres. In Coulter's view, had the west taken notice of Burundi's war in 1972 then things would almost certainly have been different for Rwanda in 1994, even to the point of avoiding the genocide that took place there and the resulting refugee problem that continues to this day. This lively and intelligent book challenges us all to look again at the aid and development 'industry' in Africa today.


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