Eyes of Africa: In the Eyes of Africa
by Victorine D. Ngangu
Outskirts Press

"Africa’s progress lies in the hands of Africans themselves; it depends solely on their strength, courage and work."

Author and activist Ngangu has created a credible, thought-provoking thesis regarding her native land. She asserts that thousands of Africans die each year from preventable causes that can be traced to poverty, neglect, and lack of basic rights. She paints a wide panorama of those causes and suggests ways to remedy this shocking and unjust situation. One major irony is that the continent of Africa is far from poor. Focusing on the Congo region from where the author emigrated in her teens, she points out that it is a “geological paradise.” The whole of Africa, in fact, is laden with vast mineral resources: coal, oil, copper, cobalt, lead, uranium, gold, diamonds, and a substance called Coltan, used in the manufacture of computers and in the nuclear and aeronautics industries. Additionally, Africa has rich soil for agriculture that is not being utilized for its starving citizens. Ngangu states that generations of wealthy, greedy elites in Africa have allowed these resources to be exploited almost solely by other nations with almost no benefit accruing to the poor people who live there.

Basic human rights are often ignored in Africa. Qualified workers such as teachers are underpaid or unemployed, while great numbers of children go without formal schooling. Those who might speak out against such injustices soon learn that to do so could mean loss of their livelihood and possibly imprisonment. Ngangu stresses that traditional African society was marked by communal sharing and caring, which can still be seen at the community level. But with corruption rife among officials and politicians, parents will avoid discussing modern societal ills with their children. As a result, many young people passively accept or are victims of the system. The author gives the disturbing example of a family whose father could not support his children; they eventually became street urchins, and one of them, a ten-year-old girl, turned to prostitution.

Yet there is hope. Ngangu believes that “African youth are the pillar and foundation of future African development.” Though many young people are as enmeshed in the twisted system as their elders, and afraid of expressing themselves, she vests her hope on those few who are talented, intelligent, and determined enough to make a difference as well as being courageous enough to confront the status quo and make radical changes.

Ngangu’s treatise is well organized and logical. She has a sincerely held vision of a new Africa united in the pursuit of nationalism and patriotism and dedicated to democratic principles. She has clearly examined this subject in-depth, both as a former resident of the Congo and as an active proponent of betterment for the continent in her current work as founder of the charity Help Children of Africa, which she formed to improve the lot of street orphans. Her book is offered in two languages, with the French edition appearing after the English version in this single volume. Students of African history, culture, and economics, as well as those new to this subject but wishing to help those less fortunate than themselves, will learn much from Ngangu’s straightforward, wide-ranging exploration of the continent’s complex issues.

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