Schulenburg has provided a blueprint that is both original and far more attractive and coherent than any of the recommendations of the many reviews of peacekeeping authorised by the UN Secretariat for the past 15 to 20 years.
The book is a fascinating portrait of a deeply courageous, intelligent, shrewd and determined woman possessed, at an early age, of a sense of high destiny and a deeply patriotic commitment to serving her country – even if that meant making frankly rebarbative choices. Serleaf has been consistently pragmatic, determined to undo decades of despoliation visited upon Liberia by successive regimes, in some of which she served.
Marijuana is a traditional drug in West Africa, and it remains the drug of choice of the region’s young and poor. Legalising it in the region will be an economic boost to its farmers, as well as freeing law enforcement resources currently dedicated to suppressing its production, sale and consumption.
Drug trafficking is a global issue, and those responsible for it should be punished, but should those who use drugs for recreational purposes be punished? Does sending hundreds of small-time users to prison really help deal with the wider problem?
Professor Ellis was by far the most accomplished, productive and dedicated scholar of Africa of his generation, and his contribution will remain the gold standard with respect to modern scholarship on Africa.
Acclaimed writer and Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul has spent much time traveling in and writing about Africa. But his views of the continent are ignorant and bigoted, like those of most foreign visitors before him. It is disappointing that such a towering literary figure who should know better chooses to see Africa and her people through a lens of racism and colonial prejudice.
The undoubted merit of this book is in its providing of historical depth to understanding the drug menace. But readers should beware of the danger of substituting one’s irritation with some of the awkward policies of western governments with concern for the African predicament.