This is the breathtaking account of how a handful of men were handed a continent of rich lands and poor people. How they became tyrants overnight and turned their countries into cruel kleptocracies. How they ransacked their treasuries to make billion-pound fortunes, and lived in unimaginable luxury while their people often starved. Paul Kenyon is a brilliant writer and reporter who's been there and tells a story of unparalleled greed and western complicity in vivid detail. It's Africa's ruin, but our story too.' Michael Buerk
`The full horror of what happened in Africa from 1960 onwards has never been accurately described... But for those who would like to know how awful it was, it is all here.' Frederick Forsyth
Paul Kenyon is a multi-award winning investigative journalist, presenter and author. He has reported from danger-zones around the world for the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama, and is one of the UK’s most experienced undercover film-makers.
Before becoming Panorama’s youngest reporter, he fronted his own investigative show on BBC1,, “Kenyon Confronts”, which specialized in secret filming and daring confrontations of criminal gangs...
Outline of book
Section 1: Gold and Diamondst
Chapter 1, Congo. The most resource-rich country in Africa. It has copper, gold, diamonds, oil, rubber, cobalt, enough to make this one of the richest countries in the world. This chapter charts the decades of looting which has robbed the Congolese people, from the Belgians to Mobutu.
Chapter 2, Zimbabwe. It is rich in gold and diamonds. I chose to tell this story because Mugabe began his leadership as the great hope for change after white rule, but launched a murderous campaign to keep himself in power and to distribute the country’s resources between his cronies.
Section 2: Oil
Chapter 3, Before the Dictators. An exploration of the race for oil in Africa, including interviews with old colonials who were present when the first discoveries were made in Libya and Nigeria.
Chapter 4, Libya. I chose Colonel Gaddafi because I had travelled the country extensively, and because his dictatorship was entirely dependent on a single commodity – oil –which had the potential to make this the richest country in Africa.
Chapter 5, Nigeria. For some time the biggest oil producer on the continent. I chose Sani Abacha because his regime was the most murderous and corrupt of the many military dictators who have run the country since independence from Britain. I also examine the Oil Minister who tried to steal one of Africa’s richest oil fields.
Chapter 6, Equatorial Guinea. It angered me that the recent history of this important oil producing state has been overlooked by much of the world. The exploitation of an entire country, the stealing of its rich resources by the ruling family and the president’s human rights abuses all, somehow, dip beneath the radar of world opinion. They do this with the cooperation of US oil giants. That is why I wrote about EG.
Section 3: Cocoa
Chapter 7, Before the Dictators. The recent history of colonial exploitation of cocoa, from the former Portuguese islands of Sao Tome and Principe to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Chapter 8, Cote d’Ivoire. I chose this to show that not all dictators kill and jail their subjects, and that sometimes the resources are used to benefit all – for a limited period of time at least. Felix Houphouet-Boigny was a brilliant politician who began his leadership of the world’s biggest cocoa producer with good intentions, but lost his way.
Chapter 9, Eritrea. The resource here is, simply, humans. The country’s dictator, Isaias Afwerki, has stolen the lives of an entire population, forcing all into endless conscription. This is another country that manages to avoid world press attention, and therefore deserves its place in this book.