In This Review

A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa
A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa
By Patrick Chabal et al
359 pp, Indiana University Press, 2002

The first half of this useful book is Chabal's comparative survey of Africa's five Lusophone countries, and the second half consists of chapters by country experts who focus on Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and S‹o Tome and Principe, respectively. Chabal identifies the commonalities and differences among the five countries, pinpoints the characteristics that result specifically from their Portuguese heritage, and assesses how each today shares common features with African countries formerly ruled by other colonial powers. The focus is on the years 1975-2000, but all the authors take precolonial and colonial historical conditions into account. Bringing a sophisticated analytical perspective to his introduction, Chabal measures each postcolonial government against the now-fashionable neopatrimonial paradigm (boss-run regimes built on patronage), makes allowances for the varying political skills of nationalist leaders, considers the effects of anticolonial wars in three of the five countries, and looks at the failure of socialist experiments in each. This work fills an important gap.