Tuesday, July 21, 2009

USAID as Kenya's activist librarian

The FT reports on one of the most daring activities USAID has ever initiated.
It’s Our Turn to Eat, by British writer Michela Wrong, is the story of the man who blew the whistle on multimillion-dollar corruption at the heart of the Kenyan government. Most Kenyans cannot get hold of a copy.

Kenyans who want a copy go to hawkers such as Mr Ngure, who fishes a battered mobile phone out of his pocket and slips away to call his supplier. This indirect route for the book to reach its readership exists only thanks to an unlikely collaborator: the US embassy in Nairobi. It has masterminded a guerrilla distribution programme to challenge the political elite by promoting an exposé of its failings.
With Mr. Obama as president of the U.S., one imagines the U.S. has a great latitude to act in Kenya even outside the norms of diplomacy. Here's hoping the book gets all over Nairobi - and ends the careers of the most corrupt "public" officials.

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