Often on this blog I descend into a simplistic view that all of The Gambia’s woes are caused by the pantomime villain that is His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh Babili Mansa and that everything would be fine in The Gambia if he wasn’t in power and The Gambia was a functioning democracy.
Tom Burgis in The Looting Machine reminds me that it is not that simple. African states have suffered from poor leadership but they have also been exploited by an unfair global system and have been exploited by outsiders for centuries. Jammeh’s incompetent and unrepresentative rule relies on a complicit international system which largely remains mute on governance as long as the World Bank and IMF are kept happy with the extortionate trade deals which result in “an inverted auction, in which poor countries compete to sell the family silver at the lowest price.”
By showing how “the looting machine” is operated by people and institutions both inside and outside Africa, Burgis transcends the tired binary debate about the root causes of the continent’s misery.