4 January 2008


I came to stumble on this book review which i'll like people interested in knowing what is exactly happening in Africa,to Africa,how and by who to read.This rich but forsaken continent is facing continuous unscrupulous hijacking of it's God given resources in the eyes of the whole wide world,including the Africans themselves who are part and parcel of this shameful stupidity,greed and wickedness.John Ghazvinian narrates what many BIG GUNS should be ashamed of.
"The collision and competition between China and the west, especially over Africa, will be one of the hallmarks of the 21st century. Reading "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil" is one way to prepare yourself for the battle."

The role played by oil in world politics (and U.S. foreign policy) is hard to quantify but impossible to deny. While the Middle East is the center of oil politics, the new frontier is Africa according to "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil," an important new book from John Ghazvinian. The book, which could have been a dry recitation of the devastation caused by colonialism in Africa, turns out to be a great and rollicking read which gives a more accurate picture of dusty, sweaty, poor, and invigorating Africa than anything I've seen recently.Travel TalesGhazvinian writes about a trip across Chad: Inside, the Land Cruiser had been converted into a sort of cattle truck, with two hard wooden benches running along its length. Ten people had already squeezed in, along with more belongings, and were looking intensely uncomfortable in the scorching early-morning heat. I plumped for a $25 "first-class" ticket, thinking that sitting in the passenger seat and facing forward would make the ten-hour journey more pleasant. What I had not been told was that a first-class ticket entitled me to only half the passenger seat. It was just as well, then, that the vehicle broke down at least eight times during the journey. (I lost count after the seventh.) The seat was tilted so far forward that my neighbor and I had our arms pressed against the dashboard for the duration of the journey, and every time the driver pulled over to fiddle with the fan belt, it was a welcome chance to step out into the blessed relief of the 120 degree heat and walk around the camels... On the way back I treated myself to both first-class seats... While this leg of the investigation was uncomfortable for the author, other parts were life-threatening and, perhaps, foolish. I've been in some touchy situations in Africa, but nothing like Ghazvinian's trip in a small, decrepit boat with a failing engine out into Nigeria's Delta (think Florida's Everglades with no National Park Service) in search of locals stealing oil straight out of the pipelines. These are people with no incentive to spare the life of a nosey white journalist asking questions. Somehow he survives.
Amazing Wealth, Breathtaking PovertyOf course the book does cover the oil-soaked history, politics, economics and treachery of half a dozen countries. In Angola, the author captures the disparity in lifestyle between the wealthy, "top 100" families and the rest of the deeply poverty stricken country. The SUV driving nouveau riche of Angola can't hold a candle to the outlandish spending of the Obaing ruling family in Equatorial Guinea. And Ghazvinian shows how deeply the Obaing tentacles reach into America. The nation's oil generated cash reserves of $700 million were long held at the Dupont Circle branch of the Riggs Bank (now part of PNC Bank) in Washington, DC where President Obaing, his son and one nephew were the only names listed on the account. The Senate report [into Obaing's finances] even details two rather colorful episodes in which the Riggs official in charge of the accounts walked the mile back to Dupont Circle from the Equatorial Guinea embassy, carrying suitcases stuffed with $3 million worth of $100 bills wrapped in plastic cling film. The author was run out of Equatorial Guinea in February of 2005, and is apparently still the last foreign journalist to be there. He later went to another tiny African nation, Sao Tome, where few barrels of oil have been pumped, but the mere speculation about oil sent the nation into a political and economic tailspin.China RisingGhazvinian's on-the-ground descriptions of China's role in Africa gives the book urgency and makes it a must-read for anyone interested in the future of geo-politics. China is now the world's second largest importer of oil (after the United States). And by 2020 they will need two times more oil per year than the annual output of Saudi Arabia. Thus the oil fields of Africa are a global prize. And China is making friends across the continent. He writes: The scale and ferocity of China's entry into Africa has been breathtaking. China has started construction on a new railway in Nigeria and a new port for Gabon, has paved most of the roads in Rwanda, and is building roads, bridges, power stations, schools, and cellular-phone networks in at least a dozen African nations. At any given time, the China Road and Bridge Corporation alone is likely to be engaged in five hundred projects throughout Africa. In tiny Lesotho, nearly half the supermarkets are owned and run by Chinese, who also operate textile factories in the country. Mauritius, home to many Chinese-owned textile factories, added Chinese language to the national school curriculum in 2004.Clash With United StatesAll this could be described as China engaging in healthy competition with the long entrenched American and European investments in Africa. But quite often, China's approach to the continent is different than America's, Ghazvinian point out: Beijing's growing reliance on African oil has put it on a collision course with U.S. political priorities for the continent. A growing chorus of voices in Washington--from congressmen to newspaper commentators--has been complaining about China's willingness to do business in countries the United States is trying to pressure or isolate. The example most frequently cited is Sudan, whose (notionally) Islamist government many hawks in Washington would dearly love to see destabilized or overthrown, but Beijing's cooperation with Equatorial Guinea and with Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe are also frequently in the crosshairs.

From Keith Peter,guide on U.S foreign policy.

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