summer reads

I just finished reading two excellent books: In defense of elitism by William Henry III and Dead Aid by Ndabisa Moyo.

The former book deals with how society (American but it can apply anywhere) may, over time, be dragged down by its less savvy members in the name of egalitarianism. I do not agree with Henry on all the issues addressed in his book. I particularly think that he is misguided on his views on education and the feminist movement. But overall I think he has a point about the ever increasing vulgarization of the mainstream – in an ever increasing tide of anti-intellectualism – in order to accommodate the common man.

Moyo’s book is one of the best I have read on development in a long time. It kind of reminded me of Collier’s the Bottom Billion. And the book is a fast read, with the chapters seamlessly connecting with one another. I am a terrible book critic so I am just gonna say: go read it.

And speaking of Paul Collier, check out this fascinating debate. I like this, I only wish there were one or two heavy hitters from the continent weighing in on this. Where are you Prof. Wantchekon?

inside Kenya

It’s great to be back in the city in the sun, although right now it seems more like the city in the dust. With all the roadworks and unpaved walkways this place is as dusty as dusty can be. I began work in the NGO sector today and will be giving updates on how the civil society is engaging the government of Kenya for the next two months or so, on top of travel tit bits.

For now, I must say that I am impressed by K24, a 24hr news station. The presence of respectable local content on tv is also a good thing. And aside from politics, most of the Kenyans that I have talked to seem optimistic about the future – a big surprise given the madness that is going on in the country – insecurity, corruption, ineffectual leadership, joblessness and runaway inflation etc etc. This latter point only serves to reinforce my belief that the trouble with Kenya is a problem of leadership. Period.

more to come soon….