Attended an enjoyable IPN book launch this evening, for Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist. It sounds well-worth reading, to keep our current troubles in perspective. Met a couple of interesting guys whose sites I wanted to point you at:
- Eleneus Akanga is an impressive young man (click here for his blog). A journalist from Rwanda, he wrote some articles critical of President Paul Kagame, and has consequently had to seek asylum in the UK. It seems that H.E. Kagame is rather less keen on free speech than he is on economic development. For a Tutsi (like Eleneus) to criticise the Tutsi Kagame government show great courage and independence of mind. Makes me quite proud to have written back in 2007 (on Iain Dale's blog):
And do you not think you're being just a bit optimistic about the Rwandan government? I don't trust governments in Europe or Africa who have 15- or 20-year targets, but for opposing reasons - in Europe I don't believe them because I know they won't be there when the time comes, in Africa I worry that they may well be. I'd be much happier with an ambition to put in place the necessities for a stable society and successful economy, than an ambition to be a middle-income country by 2020. Sounds too much like central-planning to me. And if so, that suggests that they don't understand the real route to prosperity, and are simply repeating the same mistakes that people have been making in Africa since independence. After all, if Kagame is there to see his ambition fulfilled in 2020, he will have been in power effectively for 26 years. Can you imagine anyone getting that sort of continuous democratic mandate (without rigging elections)?
Makes me rather less proud of our politicians, and particularly the Conservative Party, who seem mostly to have fallen prey to the usual post-colonial delusion: it doesn't matter if he's a dictator so long as he's "our dictator" doing things our way. Will they ever learn? No doubt Kagame's economic record is impressive, if somewhat dirigiste, but that isn't enough. Remembering Franklin's dictum about sacrificing liberty for security, we wouldn't accept the sacrifice of free speech in exchange for economic development in the West, so I don't see why we think it's OK for Africa.
Eleneus is struggling to find work in the UK. If you know of anything more suited to his skills than the social care work he is currently doing, let him know via his blog.
- On a lighter note, I also met Alan Gibbs, founder of Gibbs Technologies, who are developing a range of amphibious vehicles. How much fun does this look?