There will be a BOOK SIGNING on Saturday 22nd April 2017 at 12noon - 2pm
at the Christian Resource Centre, 91 Seaside Road, Eastbourne
"A unique love story that is sensitively told". Shani Struthers. Best-selling author
"...a fascinating and loving look at contemporary Kenya, both the bad and the good." Goodreads review
I recently gave an after-dinner talk to the Beachy Head Round Tablers at the Hydro Hotel in Eastbourne. It was a comfortable, friendly affair, and the questions and comments afterwards took nearly as long as the talk itself. I posed the question of charity and donors, and asked "Does Aid work in Africa?" I shook my head. It breeds so much politics and corruption.
My comments on the drawbacks of Government-to-Government Aid caused some controversy, and a friendly exchange with an ex-Project Manager for the Colonial Service in Africa.
We were coming from different ends of the spectrum, we agreed. I have great respect for those in the field who work tirelessly to improve the lot of the people in the villages. My past experience working at EEC Headquarters in Nairobi, was something else. I checked imprest accounts and hob-nobbed in high places with Advisers who dealt with politics and Government officials, Such a waste of money; such corruption.
What we condemn as nepotism, is ingrained in the African culture. If someone is lucky, or clever enough to land a prestigious job, he or she is honour-bound to share the bounty with even the most distant of relatives, who appear in an endless stream of supplicants. It is not unknown for an exhausted official to shy away from promotion, for fear of this increasing, back-breaking burden which is put upon him.
We in the so-called developed world cannot understand why a promising, upwardly mobile person should inexplicably disappear from the limelight. It is a complicated scenario of muddled cultures.
"It is our turn to eat," is a saying of much significance in Africa, even though it is sometimes bandied about with wry humour. And it can lead to condemnable excess. We are all human, after all.
What is the answer?
I've learned in the past that if I write things down, knotty problems can resolve themselves. I decided to address the question in the freedom of fiction, and started to plan the sequel to "Breath of Africa".
I did some research - I even went back to East Africa to see for myself how private enterprises and charities worked - or didn't work. It was a good excuse to return, and indeed, as soon as my feet touched the tarmac of Jomo Kenyatta Airport, I knew I was home.
I came across the name of Dambisa Moyo, a world renowned Zambian economist who wrote a book: DEAD AID: Why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa. I glanced over some comments on her ideas, and have since read her book.
I needed to work out in my own mind how exactly this better way could work, and it inspired the underlying theme in my book. Perhaps I would discover the secret?
Grass Shoots is the name of a fictitious charity supporting an imaginary village called Amayoni (which means birds in Swahili) in the highlands of Kenya.
Can I leave it to you to judge?