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The Trouble with Nigeria (Heinemann African Writers Series) First UK edition Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
That being said, this is a good way for a non-Nigerian to see how Nigeria's problems are perceived internally. Achebe is strong in his condemnation of tribalism, indiscipline and especially corruption and the prejudice agains the Igbo people. While condeming most current (this was written in 1983) politicians, he does praise the famous Aminu Kano and other politicians like Bola Ige, Bisi Onabanjo and Ernest Ikoli for putting the nation's interest first, not their own. Achebe looks forward to a time when such politicians would lead Nigerians, not divide them or waste their money needlessly.
Unfortunately, good leadership is not the only answer to Nigeria's problems. Nonetheless, this is still a worthy read.
In 63 insightful pages he has written a manifesto for the recovery of people of African descent world-wide, of which I am one. He talks about the need for leadership, the scar of tribalism, and a variety of social ills that, as he puts it, Nigerians have relegated to small talk and I am sad to say African Americans have turned into comedy.
This is a must read for people of African descent and anyone else who would like to understand and help. Just recently, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing the daughter of former Nigerian President Elect Abiola. Her father died while imprisoned a few years ago. Now a congresswoman herself, she has high hopes for Nigeria, but sees similar social ills here in American and agreed that Achebe's views are accurate and needful.
The trouble with Nigeria and African America is that not enough people have read and applied the principles discussed in The Trouble with Nigeria.
This book is a bit political and local, meaning that if you don't know the characters you will not get about 10% of the book. He cites examples and tells stories that are clearly very familiar to locals, but not to outsiders. Such writing makes me believe that the audience aimed is in fact Nigerians rather than outsiders.
However, there are important lessons from outsiders, which are condensed into the less than 100 pages of this small book. Issues such as corruption and disrespect for laws are addressed from a very different standpoint than usual economists would. The ideas and concepts from this book are applicable to other countries facing difficulties reaching high standards of living. I, for one, wish someone had written such a book on Brazil. It is a quick read, worth your 2 hours.
Almost every page in this concise book is packed with "quotable quotes". Very cutting. Achebe did not spare Awolowo or even the great Zik of Africa in pointing fingers at those who played roles in fermenting the troubles. He also rightly clamps down on meddlesome and ubiquitous Obasanjo among many others - high and low.
As was stated in the introduction, Nigerians' small talk is often centered around the trouble with Nigeria, so the title of the book also pokes at Nigerians. Nigerians know all about the trouble but still cannot figure out a solution and Achebe tried to sketch a route past the troubles. But alas, it is no casual "trouble", it is a deeply-seated neurosis.
The sad reality is that even over 3 decades later not much has changed in Nigeria - if anything it has changed for the worse in some ways - despite the passing of leadership from the illegitimate military rulers to elected civilians. Nigeria's ruling class treat the country as an all-you-can-eat buffet while unconnected citizens are viewed as destitute serfs outside the gates.