In This Review

Angola From Afro-Stalinism to Petro-Diamond Capitalism
Angola From Afro-Stalinism to Petro-Diamond Capitalism
By Tony Hodges
223 pp, Indiana University Press, 2001

It is tempting to imagine Angola emerging some day as an African success story -- if it could only settle its interminable civil war. Its vast natural resources could finance a level of development that would be the envy of the rest of the continent. But the sad truth, according to the picture painted here, is different. Even if the destructive forces of the rebel leader Jonas Savimbi were to vanish tomorrow, the venal elites who rule in Luanda lack the habits and values required to create a better future. Having lived for so long in a rentier state financed by oil revenues and (more recently) diamond fields retaken from Savimbi, the country's leading families appear to have lost all sense of responsibility for the fate of the country's pauperized masses. The people, in turn, lack any means of holding their rulers to account. Nor can international financial institutions exert any leverage when a country's problem is too much, not too little, revenue. A veteran observer of Angola, Hodges covers the whole appalling mess with notable detachment.