Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Mining and Community in the South African Platinum Belt: A Decade after Marikana

This book is excellent in describing and analysing the mining and post-mining economics and challenges of Rustenburg and the Platinum Belt of South Africa.” – Professor Lucius Botes, North West University, South Africa

“This book by Lochner Marais and his colleagues is important in several ways. Not only does it highlight, through the in-depth analysis of the platinum mining town Rustenburg, the dilemmas of large-scale mining and dependent communities. It also reveals the complexities of the South African post-apartheid transition, which in turn can serve as inspiration for many other places going through or aspiring to a democratic reinvention and economic redistribution. In addition, the book reveals the often nefarious effects of globalisation and neoliberal reform on mining communities. Marais and his colleagues took great pains to demonstrate how old injustices can endure under new conditions, how new injustices can be the unintended consequence of seemingly benevolent decisions by governments and companies alike, and how every new and appealing rhetoric can be deployed to serve other purposes. Some of the examples are revealing about South Africa, others are recognisable in resource towns across the world: dismantling of exploitative structures such as company towns, and increased local autonomy and democracy can hide neglect and disinvestment by companies and governments alike. Nevertheless, the authors find not one but many sparkles of hope in their Rustenburg study, hope which will be welcomed in other resource-dependent regions.” – Professor Kristoff van Ache, University of Alberta, Canada

“A much-needed new understanding that is relevant for South Africa and its regional neighbours. Some of the results and insight are universal and can potentially be applied much wider.” – Professor Ernst Drewes, North West University, South Africa

Islamism: Global Surveys and Implications for the Future of the Arab Countries

“Using carefully collected survey data, Tausch had previously demonstrated that the official religious teachings of the Catholic Church towards the religious other do not necessarily trickle down to its most devoted members. Now he is applying similar methods to probe attitudes in Muslim societies towards a host of issues, hopefully opening a window into those societies.”
Arie Folger
Member of the Standing Committee of the European Rabbinical Conference
Member of the Rabbinical Court of Austria
Rabbi of the Bet Midrash Orchot Chajim

“This impressively researched empirical study comes at just the right time: “Islamism” asks for the development potential of the Arab countries and discusses the question of how the West should position itself. Anyone looking for answers to these crucial questions should refer to this book.
Alexander Pinwinkler
Associate Visiting Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna
Teaches at the Department of History of the University of Salzburg as well as at the Department of Economic and Social History of the University of Vienna

“Arno Tausch has few peers globally with his expertise on the Muslim world. This expertise is demonstrated in “Islamism: Global Surveys and Implications for the Future of the Arab Countries”. With the Middle East North Africa region in turmoil, now more than ever we need such expertise. This book is a veritable tour de force majestic in its scope and depth as it examines civic culture in the Arab world, anti-Semitism, Islamism and gender relations and the nexus between globalization and the environment and how this impacts the region.”
Professor Hussein Solomon
Head of Department of Political Studies and Governance
University of the Free State, South Africa

Desertification: Past, Current and Future Trends

Desertification, which is generally regarded as a special case of land degradation, has been an issue of global concern for decades…It is clearly a highly topical issue and this contribution, edited by Victor Squires and Ali Ariapour, is both timeous and relevant to the debate. The book is comprised of 10 chapters, six of which are either authored or co-authored by the editors. Because of their background and experience, case studies from Iran and China have a stronger emphasis in this volume than is usually the case. However, the first chapter by John Oswald and Sarah Harris provides a very useful and balanced global overview of the desertification debate, which I would recommend as necessary reading for anyone wishing to undertake research in this field…READ MORE
M Timm Hoffman
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Cape Town
Cape Town
South Africa

Cameroon in the 21st Century: Challenges and Prospects. Volume 1: Governance and Businesses

“Africa is coming of age, a new reality that is perfectly exemplified by this collection of 30 essays by Cameroonian scholars on important policy issues in Cameroon. Africans are looking at their own economic performance with lucidity and rigor, charting a course for the future. This is important. We need more work of this kind.” – Marcel Fafchamps, Professor, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, USA

“This book is a masterpiece that combines very well theoretical and practical aspects on the role and consequences of institutions in Cameroon. In fact, institutions play a key role in the volume that assesses the effects of natural resources on governance and the effects of the economic policy on the business climate. Other current issues are also examined like the consequences of terrorism on trade between Cameroon and Nigeria. It leads to strong recommendations for economic policies, so that this country, called “Africa in miniature” with countless resources, finally reaches an optimal use of its potential. It also raises questions for those in charge of the economic policy and for any other citizen interested in economic issues encountered by Cameroon. The book enriches the reader on various subjects and it will certainly enlighten Cameroonian leaders, since it finally appears as a tool to help decision-making.” – Henri Atangana Ondoa, Professor of Economics, Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Yaoundé II, Cameroon

“This is a timely book as improvements in governance (political, institutional and economic) and climate of doing business are crucial in addressing contemporary development challenges in Cameroon. The theoretical arguments and detailed empirical case studies present a comprehensive picture of policy directions. Policy insights into the book are centred on how the high growth potential of the country can be leveraged to address development challenges. The overarching concerns addressed by contributors to the book and corresponding policy implications are also relevant to other developing countries facing similar policy syndromes.” – Simplice Asongu, PhD, African Governance and Development Institute (AGDI), Cameroon

“Governance and Businesses is a thorough analysis of main issues and challenges faced by the Cameroon’s economy in terms of governance, business climate, globalization, and security. The analysis is carried out by Cameroonian scholars from various disciplines and offers de facto a diversity of points of view and perspectives. More importantly, the book provides clear policy recommendations to inform the decision-making process and shape the country’s economy on a sustainable growth path. I really enjoyed reading this book as it shed a new light on salient issues such as governance, the dependence on natural resources, the widespread of informality, and the threat of insecurity to trade.” – Urbain Thierry Yogo, PhD, University of Yaoundé II, Cameroon

“The case of Cameroon in this 30-chapter volume book entitled “Cameroon in the 21st Century: Challenges and Prospects” covering “Governance and Businesses” and “Environmental and People”, is a true reflection of key and specific issues among many countries in Africa. Each chapter covers the subject matter in style. These issues are some of the motivational factors behind the recent formation of the African Federation of Operations Research Societies (AFROS) as an OR regional umbrella body under auspices of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS), which is the global body. As President of AFORS, I would like to recommend this book to academicians, researchers, policy makers and all stakeholders, interested in development of Cameroon and Africa at large.” – Charles Malack Oloo, PhD, First President, African Federation of Operations Research Societies (AFROS), Nairobi, Kenya

For more information about this book, please click here.

The Economic, Social and Political Impact of Mining on Akyem Abuakwa from the Pre-Colonial Era up to 1943

“In this volume, Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah considers the history of the area associated with the Akyem Abuakwa Kingdom and presently, known Akyem Abuakwa state, in southeastern Ghana. While the kingdom was disadvantaged by its inland location, it benefited greatly from its mineral wealth-in both gold and diamonds. However, the ambiguous benefits of gold are well-known, as is told in the myth of King Midas and his greed for gold that almost led to the death of his beloved daughter. These aspects of gold were evident in Akyem Abuakwa as labor-intensive traditional gold mining was supported by the king and his sub-chiefs.

Through their division of the profits from gold nuggets, they amassed great wealth which enabled them to purchase European firearms and to display gold regalia during festivals, thus reinforcing their political power. Yet they were dependent on the labor of slaves and pawns, which ended in the Gold Coast Colony after 1880. With the British occupation of Asante in 1896, several European mining firms sought to obtain gold-mining concessions in Akyem Abuakwa. This situation, which led chiefs to essentially sell land to mining firms, resulted in much land lost to foreign control. However, the traditional ruler, Nana Ofori Atta I, sought to reign in concessions by initiating a new property rights system in kingdom. The author argues that the funds accrued through this new system controlled by the king were used to benefit the community through education and to address some of the social and health problems brought about by scientific goldmining in Akyem Abuakwa.

There is a proverb associated with the Akan gold weight (used to measure gold dust currency during the precolonial era) depicting a bird with its head turned back-known as Sankofa. The proverb, “pick it up if it falls behind you,” refers to the need to learn from past and to amend earlier mistakes. Ofosu-Mensah’s detailed study of the problems associated with gold, labor, and land and the political leadership that emerged to address them provides material with which to think about the present.” – Elisha P. Renne, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, USA

For more information about this book, please click here.