The Bright Continent: Book summary and reviews of The Bright Continent by Dayo Olopade

The Bright Continent

Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa

by Dayo Olopade

The Bright Continent by Dayo Olopade X
The Bright Continent by Dayo Olopade

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Book Summary

Africa is a continent on the move. It's often hard to notice, though—the western focus on governance and foreign aid obscures the individual dynamism and informal social adaptation driving the last decade of African development. Dayo Olopade set out across sub-Saharan Africa to find out how ordinary people are dealing with the challenges they face every day. She found an unexpected Africa: resilient, joyful, and innovative, a continent of DIY changemakers and impassioned community leaders.

Everywhere Olopade went, she witnessed the specific creativity born from African difficulty—a trait she began calling kanju. It's embodied by bootstrapping innovators like Kenneth Nnebue, who turned his low-budget, straight-to-VHS movies into a multi-million dollar film industry known as Nollywood. Or Soyapi Mumba, who helped transform cast-off American computers into touchscreen databases that allow hospitals across Malawi to process patients in seconds. Or Ushahidi, the Kenyan technology collective that crowdsources citizen activism and disaster relief.<

The Bright Continent calls for a necessary shift in our thinking about Africa. Olopade shows us that the increasingly globalized challenges Africa faces can and must be addressed with the tools Africans are already using to solve these problems themselves. Africa's ability to do more with less—to transform bad aid and bad government into an opportunity to innovate—is a clear ray of hope amidst the dire headlines and a powerful model for the rest of the world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The African continent is certainly brightening, but not quite at the pace Olopade ambitiously tries to portray." - Publishers Weekly

"A refreshingly hopeful argument, well-grounded in data and observation—of considerable interest to students of geopolitics, demographics and economic trends." - Kirkus Reviews

"The Bright Continent is a long overdue and much needed corrective to the dominant perception of Africa. It is a book loaded with revelations of heroic, and often ingenious lives, all of which are eloquently and poignantly brought to life through Dayo's brilliant observations." - Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and All Our Names

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Author Information

Dayo Olopade

Dayo Olopade is a Nigerian-American journalist covering global politics and development policy. She has reported for The New Republic, The Root, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, and many other publications. Dayo is currently a Knight Law and Media Scholar at Yale University.

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