Africa must look to God for a way out of its malaise, argues this ambitious manifesto.
As a Ugandan who spent time in Idi Amin’s jail, an economist with the United Nations and a born-again Christian, the author brings a broad perspective to bear on the conundrum of Africa’s poverty and turmoil. Many of his recommendations echo mainstream reform proposals. Africans, Latigo insists, must rely on themselves instead of foreign-aid handouts. Political leaders should streamline government and focus it on maintaining peace and the rule of law instead of using it to enrich themselves. Economic policy should concentrate on building a vibrant private sector diversified away from commodity exports. But the heart of Latigo’s program is a call for Africans as individuals to undertake a thorough project of spiritual self-improvement based on “Godly values,” which comprise the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and ideals of integrity and professionalism. He insists that people of all faiths can embrace this program, but his elaboration of it is heavily indebted to Evangelical doctrine and the Prosperity Gospel. (Buying a jet and building a 250-acre golf resort near his hometown are among the personal goals the author hopes God will help him achieve.) Latigo writes in an unusual variety of registers. He switches easily from sophisticated discussions of development economics—complete with lucid explanations of Gini coefficients and foreign-exchange fluctuations—to Christian dogmatics (“[t]he Holy Spirit is fully God, the third person of the Holy Trinity, who convicts the world of its sin and guilt”) and positive-thinking riffs (“[b]y following a few steps…you can get all the wealth you need and be the success you have always yearned to be”). He spikes the brew with nuggets of down-to-earth advice (“Avoid Too Many Unproductive Meetings”) and punchy exhortations to “Fight Dream Killers” and “Think Big and Dare to Try.” Some may find Latigo’s religiosity and sloganeering simplistic, but his case for age-old virtues and against passive, fatalistic mindsets is cogent and compelling.
An original, stimulating pep talk for a continent.