False Start in Africa

In This Review

False Start in Africa

By Rene Dumont
Andre Deutsch, 1966
320 pp.
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First published as L'Afrique Noire est Mal Partie in 1962, this blunt and brilliant critique of African development policies shook the international aid community and inspired Julius Nyerere, founder and president of Tanzania, to adopt the daring development strategies articulated in the country's 1967 Arusha Declaration. According to Dumont, a French agronomist with broad experience, Africa's continuing underdevelopment was not caused by unfavorable natural conditions but by the failure of political authorities in both the colonial and postcolonial periods to adopt more appropriate policies regarding technology, peasant agriculture, industrialization, education, civil service development, foreign aid, and regional integration. On each of these subjects Dumont's analysis, sometimes technical but always trenchant and prophetic, still makes good reading.