From Publishers Weekly
Kenya's dysfunctional state is the subject of this gripping profile of an anti-corruption crusader. Journalist Wrong (In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz
) tells the story of John Githongo, a journalist and activist (and Wrong's personal friend) who joined newly elected Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's administration in 2003 as anti-corruption czar. Githongo's reformist hopes were betrayed when his investigation of a contracting scandal earned him the enmity of colleagues, death threats and smear campaigns. He fled to Britain in 2005, taking along secret recordings of conversations in which powerful officials implicated themselves in the scam. Githongo, a charming idealist with an intransigence bordering on egomania, is a magnetic protagonist for Wrong's exposé of the machinery of corruption. She dissects the deeper problem of Kenya's patronage system, which exploits the state as a source of loot and makes allowances for the tribal parties in power. The resulting graft and discrimination—which Wrong argues fueled the communal slaughter surrounding Kenya's 2007 election—reinforces Kenyans' view of existence as a merciless contest, in which only ethnic preference offers hope of survival. Githongo's saga highlights this pan-African problem and addresses possibilities for change. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In 2003, when Mwai Kibaki was elected to replace Kenyan president Moi, the peaceful transition was hailed locally and internationally as the end of rampant corruption and tribal favoritism. John Githongo, a former journalist and longtime critic of government corruption, was named to head an anti-corruption commission. But Githongo was alternately hopeful and skeptical about the new government. Soon scandals and rumors of scandals emerged of officials eating at the government trough. Githongo, a member of the leading Kikuyu tribe, began to surreptitiously tape conversations with government figures to document corruption and became the target of threats. Journalist Wrong provided temporary shelter when, two years after joining Kibaki’s administration, Githongo fled Kenya, taking with him incriminating evidence of graft. Wrong offers a compelling analysis of Kenya’s history of tribalism and corruption, dating back to British colonialism, and the dramatic story of one man’s bravery and the ultimate price he paid. Written with the pace of a thriller and a depth of analysis of a nation and a man, this is a compelling look at a nation struggling to overcome its past. --Vanessa Bush