Richard Dowden

The sick man of Africa

I dread attending meetings on Congo. At almost every one a Congolese will stand up and start to rail, then scream and weep. Some get very aggressive. The police were called to one meeting. For a while I was embarrassed and irritated. Now I think it is absolutely understandable, appropriate even. The Democratic Republic of

After Mandela

It produced one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. It fought a violent race-based dictatorship and replaced it with the most liberal constitution the world has ever known. Its song, a poignant Christian hymn, became South Africa’s national anthem. Since it came to power in 1994, about two thirds of South Africans vote

Three decades of murder and misrule

Next week marks 30 years since Robert Mugabe was elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Last month was 20 years since Nelson Mandela left jail. The two men have much in common. Both are nationalist leaders who fought white rule in southern Africa. Both served long periods in prison, Mandela 27 years, Mugabe 11. Both emerged

Downhill all the way?

Martin Meredith ended his 1984 book on Africa, The First Dance of Freedom, with a quote from a recent report by the Economic Commission for Africa which looked ahead to the continent’s future over the next 25 years. On existing trends, it predicted, poverty in rural areas would reach ‘unimaginable dimensions’, while the towns would