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It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blowerby Michela Wrong
Synopses & Reviews
In January 2003, Kenya—seen as the most stable country in Africa—was hailed as a model of democracy after the peaceful election of its new president, Mwai Kibaki. By appointing respected longtime reformer John Githongo as anticorruption czar, the new Kikuyu government signaled its determination to end the corrupt practices that had tainted the previous regime. Yet only two years later, Githongo himself was on the run, having discovered that the new administration was ruthlessly pillaging public funds.
"Under former President Moi, his Kalenjin tribesmen ate. Now it's our turn to eat," politicians and civil servants close to the president told Githongo. As a member of the government and the president's own Kikuyu tribe, Githongo was expected to cooperate. But he refused to be bound by ethnic loyalty. Githongo had secretly compiled evidence of official malfeasance and, at great personal risk, made the painful choice to go public. The result was Kenya's version of Watergate.
Michela Wrong's account of how a pillar of the establishment turned whistle-blower, becoming simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya, grips like a political thriller. At the same time, by exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa—ethnic favoritism, government corruption, and the smug complacency of Western donor nations—It's Our Turn to Eat probes the very roots of the continent's predicament. It is a story that no one concerned with our global future can afford to miss.
Book News Annotation:
Following his election in January 2003, Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki appointed John Githongo as an anticorruption czar, who later claimed that he discovered that the top ministers in the new administration were engaging in widespread fraud with public funds, and that President Kibaki was complicit in the affair. Rather than go along with the attitude expressed by some in the administration--"Under former President Moi, his Kalenjin tribesmen ate. Now it's our turn to eat."--Githongo compiled evidence of the corruption and went public. Journalist Wrong details Githongo's involvement with the Anglo Leasing scandal (as it came to be known) and connects the affair to larger questions of ethnic favoritism and government corruption in Africa. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"A fast-paced political thriller.... Wrong's gripping, thoughtful book stands as both a tribute to Githongo's courage and a cautionary tale." —New York Times Book Review
“On one level, Its Our Turn to Eat reads like a John Le Carré novel.... On a deeper and much richer level, the book is an analysis of how and why Kenya descended into political violence.” — Washington Post
Called "urgent and important” by Harper's magazine, Its Our Turn to Eat is a nonfiction political thriller of modern Kenya—an eye-opening account of tribal rivalries, pervasive graft, and the rising anger of a prospect-less youth that exemplifies an African dilemma.
About the Author
Michela Wrong has worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, the BBC, and the Financial Times. She has written about Africa for Slate.com and is a frequent commentator on African affairs in the media. Her first book, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, won the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Nonfiction. She lives in London.
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