Tucked away in a remote part of Africa, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso, three of the world's poorest countries, are in the throes of great upheaval. Globalisation has shown their people that a more comfortable life is possible, but as they strive to attain it, climate change, the population boom, the tyrants of the old guard and the firm grip of tradition block their way.
The clash between old and new is explosive. Civil wars erupt without warning, with drugged up rebels fighting over blood diamonds, gold or a humble bowl of rice. Al Qaeda has set up camp in Burkina Faso. Colombian drug gangs have overrun Guinea-Bissau. Christian and Muslim fanatics battle for African souls, preparing their converts for Armageddon.
In The Ringtone and the Drum, Mark Weston dives into this maelstrom. In an often-unsettling adventure, he travels around the three countries and immerses himself in local life. Combining the remarkable stories of those he meets with his deep knowledge of Africa's development, the book sheds new light on a neglected corner of the globe.
Mark Weston is a writer and policy adviser specialising in international development. He has lived in South Africa, Ghana and India, and has worked with some of the world's leading academics and development agencies. He has advised the UK government on the security threat posed by West Africa, and the Nigerian government on ways to harness the potential of the country's youth. He co-wrote Solving the Riddle of Globalisation and Development (Routledge 2008), and his collaborations with Harvard University, the London School of Economics and the University of California on the links between poverty, gender, education and health have featured in the world's top academic journals. He is a contributor to Global Dashboard, the foreign affairs blog.When he is not roaming the wilds of Africa, Mark divides his time between Spain and England. His Twitter username is @markweston19.