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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Are you a cheetah generation?

Dear Colleagues,

The following URLs contains media clips and a transcript of a talk given by one one of the '100 top public intellectuals in the world', George Ayittey, at a TED conference held in Arusha, Tanzania.

http://www.ned.com/group/econo-politics/ws/transcript_of_the_george_ayittey_ted_lecture/

www.ted.com/index.php/talks/george_ayittey_on_cheetahs_vs_hippos.html

http://www.american.edu/cas/econ/faculty/ayittey.htm

There has been a lot of hype about Ayittey's controversial ideas on what he calls a dynamic 'new breed of Africans'- the cheetah generation - in contrast to the old corrupt, static, breed of African elites that he calls the hippo generation. His book, 'Africa Unchained: Africa's Blueprint for the Future', is available at HakiElimu's library. He has a website accessible at http://www.freeafrica.org/

I am still trying to make sense of his ideas but so far what I find interesting is his argument against critics of the 'free market system' - his assertion is based on an analysis of how the market is and has always been so central to the African communities whereby in some cases even the weekly cycle is centered on market days or a market day. Talk of 'Siku ya Gulio Katerero' and 'Kiete'.

Another interesting idea is his analysis of African communities as being generally/traditionally opposed to centralized governance - his argument is a based on a historical analysis of how these societies tended to create decentralized systems to prevent the tyranny of the kings and chiefs.

Best Regards,
Chambi

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