John Gay changed the title of his book from 2003's optimistic Africa: A
Dream Deferred to 2013's more realistic Africa: A Dream Denied. How has
the dream been denied and by whom? Mainly responsible were
three players: African rulers, foreign exploiters of Africa, and
development workers who have tried but failed to bring meaningful
change to the continent. The author shows how these forces have blocked
fulfillment of what could be a true African Renaissance. This edition
includes much that is still true from the earlier book, but also emphasizes
the unexpected stubborn and continuing stagnation of sub-Saharan Africa to
the end of the year 2013.
Praise for the First Edition
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "I think your analysis is spot on. I can hardly
fault it. I don't think you can be accused of this, but it might be
salutary for commentators to cultivate a sense of real proportion and a
modicum of modesty, humility as they look at the wrecks on the African
continent remembering just how some of the dictators they rightly deplore
were sponsored by western rulers as surrogates in the cold war."
Thayer Scudder, California Institute of Technology: "Dr. Gay's book reflects
on the recent social, economic and political history of sub-Saharan Africa
and especially those countries in which the Gays have lived and worked since
they arrived in Liberia in the mid-1950s. Chapter 2 on the breakdown of the
moral order is, for example, a devastating critique and rebuke of the West's
impact on Africa."
James McCann, head of African Studies at Boston University: "The book offers
something rather different and special, midway between a pure memoir of a
bygone age and a scholarly assessment of social science criteria about
governance, political culture, and the like. You make no claim to authority
(though you clearly could) and lay out your own subjectivity clearly. I
particularly like the way you weave incidents of personal experience into
wider reflections on issues of social and political change. I also like the
geographic sweep from Liberia, to Ethiopia, to Lesotho that brings implicit
comparisons and contrasts. I think all of these things are great strengths
and make it a nice read."
Herbert Spirer, Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights:
"'Once I started, I couldn't stop. I believe that this is a masterpiece!
There is little joy here -- and you certainly make that clear from the start
-- but there is eyewitness accounting that is superb. Your deep
understanding, your ability to explain African customs and relationships,
this is something very few others could do. Your insights and factual
reporting carry their own "face" credibility. You could have great influence
in both scholarship and policy formulation (or better, with our present
government, in the critique of policy formulation)."
Elwood Dunn, chairperson of political science, University of the South:
"Gay's perspectives on Africa are not unlike those of the Englishman, Basil
Davidson. He comes to the continent with liberal political credentials, a
Christian perspective informed by the social gospel, and insights gleaned
from careful study and observation both of indigenous African society, but
as well the product of an often uneven power encounter between Africa and
the Western world."