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The Rift

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The Rift

A New Africa Breaks Free

Little, Brown US,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A new, self-sufficient version of Africa is emerging.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


In this powerfully written account of a changing Africa, journalist Alex Perry argues that misguided Western do-gooders have created much of the suffering on the continent in recent decades. By giving free food, Westerners undermine African farmers, Perry states, and by creating a culture of handouts, humanitarians sabotage self-sufficiency. Perry claims the tide is beginning to turn, however, pointing to examples such as Rwanda’s recovery and Senegal’s freedom movement. Readers intrigued by the future of Africa will find that this work features brave reporting, stellar writing and compelling conclusions.


During a 2011 famine, the United States used poor Somalis as pawns in the war on terror.

The famine in Somalia claimed millions of lives. Starving families with emaciated children streamed into Mogadishu from southern Somalia. The author watched as 7-year-old Umar, his mother by his side, died of starvation in a hospital for refugees. The family had walked 240 kilometers to Mogadishu with no food. Umar’s younger siblings had died during the trip, and an older brother perished of measles after arriving in Mogadishu. But Umar’s family wasn’t alone in its suffering: Tens of thousands of people walked to Mogadishu, many dying during the trip. International news coverage presented the usual narrative: Somalia’s famine was business as usual in dysfunctional Africa, and food aid wasn’t arriving at its final destination.

The reality of the Somali famine was more complicated. Decades of foreign aid played a major role in the situation by helping to create a self-perpetuating cycle of food shortages and food donations. Instead of sending seeds, tractors and irrigation lines to African farmers, the West sends food. As...

About the Author

Alex Perry was born in the United States and educated at Oxford University. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for two decades in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He has written more than 30 cover stories for Time and Newsweek and reported on three dozen wars.

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