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The grabbing hand and the helping hand

3 November 2011

This mini-industry of anti-aid polemics represents such a gross distortion of the truth that calling it propaganda is an extreme understatement. More appropriate would be ‘gross and willful distortions of the truth’. While many, including this reviewer, have attacked these attempts to misrepresent the reality of financial flows in and out of sub-Saharan Africa, none have done so with the analytical clarity and empirical thoroughness of Ndikumana and Boyce in their outstanding work, Africa’s Odious Debts.

That is John Weeks reviewing Léonce Ndikumana and James Boyce’s new book, Africa’s Odious Debts: How foreign loans and capital flight bled a continent (London: Zed Books, 2011; paperback $22.95, hardback $107.95).

I had the honor of meeting Ndikumana at the Corruption and the Pursuit of Accountability in Africa Conference at Mount Holyoke College earlier this year. He gave the keynote address, entitled “Corruption and capital flight from Africa: a tale of the grabbing hand and the helping hand.” His remarks were a refreshing observation of corruption “in” Africa. Unlike the common refrain on the lavish lifestyles of dictators, Ndikumana focused attention on where those dictators were sending/spending their money: the West. Though blame could be attributed to the grabbing hand, he engaged us to think then of the helping hand.

I look forward to reading the book and to seeing how various thinkers will respond.

HT Africa is a Country.

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