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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Book Reading Goal : Week 27

Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant: Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond (Directions in Development)This week I reached the half way mark of the Book Reading Goal. Perhaps no better book to mark that milestone than than the Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant : Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond, by Michael Morris, et al.  The book summarise the findings of the study on Competitive Commercial Agriculture for Africa (CCAA), a collaborative effort led by the World Bank and FAO. It looks at the experience two regions with similar geographical challenges / conditions as Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria - the Cerrado region of Brazil and the Northeast Region of Thailand - and asks that we can learn from them in the effort to conquer world agricultural markets.

There are many wonderful insights contained therein and it certainly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of this important sector. As an avid reader of the latest research on agriculture in Zambia and the surrounding region, principally through the
Zambia Food Security Research Project, I was certainly well prepared but it was good to see the evidence benchmarked against "success stories". Chapter 4 on the "Commodity-Specific Competitiveness Analysis" and Chapter 5 "Factors Affecting the Competitiveness of African Agriculture"  particularly stood out.

Book Details:

  • Author: Michael Morris, Hans P. Binswanger-Mkhize
  • Category: Non-Fiction
  • PublisherWorld Bank Publications
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Page Count: 218
  • ISBN: 978-0821379417

  • Rating :  Recommended

In terms of progress, I am slightly behind the curve with 21 weeks remaining to read 25 books, that slightly above 1 book a week. Part of the problem has been the large volumes (currently reading three books in parallel with combined pages of 2500)! This has slightly reduced the scope for Book Reviews. But I am confident that we shall have a couple of proper reviews in September.  Suggested books are welcome.

Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 25 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 25 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 21 weeks

1 comment:

  1. Black Titan
    Subtitle: A.G. Gaston and the making of Black American millionaire
    by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines

    From the dustcover: The grandson of slaves, born into poverty in 1892 in the Deep South, A.G. Gaston died more than a century later with a fortune worth well over $130 million and a business empire spanning communications, real estate and insurance. Gaston was, by any measure, a heroic figure whose wealth and influence bore comparison to that of J.P Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Here, for the first time, is the story of the life of this extraordinary pioneer, told by his niece and grandniece, the award-winning television journalist Carol Jenkins and her daughter Elizabeth Gardner Hines.

    The life story of A.G. Gaston is inspirational and instructive, to every aspiring business person, especially African Americans and Africans.

    Here was a man who was born in the Deep South of the late 19th century, who against all odds elisted and fought in WWI, and worked and saved himself up from miner to millionaire.

    A.G. Gaston started his entrepreneurialism in the cole mines of Alabama, where unlike in West Virginia, most miners were African American. As his wife made his meals for him to take into the mine, and many miners did not have wifes to make meals for them, he started selling meals to his fellow miners. As most miners wifes and children were left destitute if the husband died in a mining accident, he started a small pool for funeral arrangements, a life insurance plan. This later expanded into arranging funerals, and buying several funeral homes, as well as life insurance businesses. In the end he ended up owning real estate and businesses worth $130 million.

    The book itself was written by his niece and her daughter, which means that this is also a very much cleaned up version of events. It is hard to believe that any troop on parlay in Paris in 1914-1918 would only enjoy the view and stay faithful to his wife, as the writers insist. I think this was a quite unnecessary bit of editing to save the family honour. It makes you think what else was left out.

    Anyway, this is a very interesting biography of a highly successful entrepreneur. I would also recommend the biography of Reginald F. Lewis, the MBO specialist of the 1980s and self-made billionaire.


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