A Continent's Chaos

"What is it that Americans call Africa?" asked the president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, looking up from his bowl of Rice Krispies. "A basket case?" The president was amused by the idiom, and a smile momentarily crossed his face. It was a bright morning in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, and the presidential peacocks, strutting outside Obasanjo's villa, were screeching in the heat.

Obasanjo, who is a former general, a former political prisoner and, for the past year, the democratically elected president of Africa's biggest country, let the smile fade as he asked: "And why is it a basket case? How did it come to be this basket case?"

We were talking about Sierra Leone. More to the point, we were talking about blame. Whom do we blame for everything that has gone wrong in Sierra Leone? Certainly not Nigeria: Nigeria spent billions of its own dollars, and sacrificed the lives of hundreds of its soldiers, trying to keep the peace.

Could it be the United States?
Read more