It's Our Turn to Eat
The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower
By Michela Wrong
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061346583, 368pp.)
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
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In January 2003, Kenya—seen as the most stable country in Africa—was hailed as a model of democracy after the peaceful election of its new president, Mwai Kibaki. By appointing respected longtime reformer John Githongo as anticorruption czar, the new Kikuyu government signaled its determination to end the corrupt practices that had tainted the previous regime. Yet only two years later, Githongo himself was on the run, having discovered that the new administration was ruthlessly pillaging public funds.
"Under former President Moi, his Kalenjin tribesmen ate. Now it's our turn to eat," politicians and civil servants close to the president told Githongo. As a member of the government and the president's own Kikuyu tribe, Githongo was expected to cooperate. But he refused to be bound by ethnic loyalty. Githongo had secretly compiled evidence of official malfeasance and, at great personal risk, made the painful choice to go public. The result was Kenya's version of Watergate.
Michela Wrong's account of how a pillar of the establishment turned whistle-blower, becoming simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya, grips like a political thriller. At the same time, by exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa—ethnic favoritism, government corruption, and the smug complacency of Western donor nations—It's Our Turn to Eat probes the very roots of the continent's predicament. It is a story that no one concerned with our global future can afford to miss.
Michela Wrong has worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, the BBC, and the Financial Times. She has written about Africa for Slate.com and is a frequent commentator on African affairs in the media. Her first book, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, won the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Nonfiction. She lives in London.