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Kagame, Francois Soudan
Briefly, this book provides a useful look at Rwanda's history as an individual country and as a member of the East African community. It sheds important light on Kagame's history and the events that led to his becoming the type of leader he is today. A strong takeaway about Kagame's ways is the "development over liberty" mindset. He is a man who has a vision, and allows all citizens to enjoy their rights and freedoms as long as they do not act in a manner that derails/obstructs the national vision. This is consistent with my on-ground experience in Rwanda where I noticed people move about and carry on their daily activities freely but are at the same time very cognizant of the strict sanctions that exist for those who break the law, regardless of anyone's wealth or political status.
How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie
The best measure of a principle’s value is in the results generated by its application. Shortly after I started reading this book, I started employing some of its recommendations in several of my daily interactions and found that I was having more peaceful, enjoyable, and productive outcomes in those interactions and relationships. I find the principles outlined in this book to be of timeless importance because from the beginning till the end of time, the ability to co-exist with other humans, understand and appreciate their perspectives, and occasionally or frequently win them over to your way of thinking will be an invaluable skill. The simple and straightforward presentation of ideas coupled with stories of people who have employed and benefitted from the application of these principles all over the world, made this book an enjoyable one. One must avoid the urge to use the principles purely for selfish, manipulative agendas by maintaining high moral and ethical standards during the application process. Not all the principles will be relevant or useful for everyone but you will almost always emerge as “the bigger person” if you use most of Dale’s strategies in your daily interactions and relationships.
Clay Water Brick, Jessica Jackley
In this book, Jessica Jackley does a marvelous job at familiarizing us with truly inspiring stories about several entrepreneurs who, to the rest of the world, might seem like ordinary people with dim hopes for success, but through their actions and achievements, demonstrate an understanding of how hard work, self-awareness, creativity, and persistence can result in life-changing accomplishments. Jessica does this while sharing an electrifying story about her personal and professional journey in a way that is capable of moving anyone of us to take action towards achieving our goals and dreams -- regardless of how large and daunting they might be. The stories about the entrepreneurs warmed my heart as my work in East Africa has exposed me to people like those she described. Like Jessica, my efforts to help and inspire the poor have often been rewarded with moments of inspiration and clarity for myself. Clay Water Brick gives me a heightened sense of pride to be a co-alumn of Bucknell University with Jessica and to have had connections drawn between her work and mine in a recent Bucknell article: https://www.bucknell.edu/2015/august/nest-eggs.html
We Are All Blue, Donald Molosi
Through the plays contained in this book, Donald executes a candid revelation of Africa and Botswana's historical truths in a way that compels the reader to seek to know more, not only about Africa and Botswana, but about his or her own country as well. He demonstrates a remarkable conversance with African history and a unique competence in telling the African story. His humorous plays are beautifully punctuated with thought-provoking African proverbs that evoke admiration for the richness of African culture. Such a truthful yet palatable and witty way of recounting Africa's history is certainly worthy of replication. Donald Molosi is certainly among the most civil radicals as far as the telling of Africa's story is concerned.
Think Like a Freak, Stephen Dubner & Steven Levitt
Dubner and Levitt do a good job at reminding us of some common sense approaches to various aspects of life. While some of the ideas presented in this book were fascinating, most of them didn't seem as radical as the book's title suggests. The strongest selling point for this book is that it reminds the reader of how to think, not what to think; and reinforces the idea that all problems can be solved if approached correctly. This is a good read for anyone looking to learn or be reminded of some useful thought tweaks that could make one seem really smart in any situation.
The downside though, is that he, to a large extent, posits that the only way poor or developing countries can achieve economic freedom is via the spending of more aid dollars by high-income countries. On the one hand, given his explanations, it makes sense. But on the other hand, the thought that the fate of nations, even continents, lies in the hands of other nations who have to decide whether or not to cancel debts and spare more change, is a somewhat tough pill to swallow. Yes, the large amounts of money needed to establish the infrastructure, healthcare and education systems, etc. that are necessary for sustainable development will be difficult to generate within any one country’s borders but perhaps Sachs could have offered some more ideas about what policy changes and strategies can enable countries lead the way to their own prosperity. Perhaps, a shift from foreign aid to foreign investment coupled with increased capacity building and accountability would be a good place to start. I must admit that I read this book looking for the magic bullet that will end poverty but the truth is, there’s no such thing. Eradicating extreme poverty is a complex process that seems possible on paper. However, I think there is an over-dependence on altruism in the current plans; an over-dependence that might make the goal unachievable. The Marshall Plan offers unequivocal evidence for the importance of foreign aid but I have a hard time imagining how any nation can escape from poverty without taking full responsibility for its own growth and development.
The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs
This book is a one-stop-shop for all you need to know about development economics especially if like me, you’re relatively new to the field and would like a holistic, realistic, experience-based account of how the world came to be what it is today [economically]. Sachs sheds light on events dating far back in time and draws important connections between several foreign policy decisions and how they’ve shaped nations, continents, and international relations. He points out flaws in the dogmatic and often ineffective approaches taken by large international organizations like the IMF and World Bank, and makes sound recommendations about the short and long-term approaches that ought to be taken if extreme poverty is to be eradicated. He uncovers the truth behind the disparities that exist in the effectiveness of foreign aid across nations and why the billions of dollars spent by high-income countries on foreign aid every year seem to have very little impact on some of the nations that receive such aid.