Dana's "Obruni" Booklist

These books, many recently published, have helped us at WomensTrust learn more about Africa and social development. We use the word obruni (Ghanaian for “white person”), because Americans often have to unravel the misperceptions and biases we bring to the table.

Understanding the harsh reality of the slave trade is key to moving through the historic shame from our role in this horrendous era.  We have a higher probability of making change happen when we can openly discuss slavery and then proactively address the inequity that prevails to this day. (printable list)

A History of Indigenous Slavery in Ghana
From the 15th to the 19th Century
By Akosua Adoma Perbi (2004)

The Door of No Return: The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade
By William St. Clair (2006/2007)

Middle Passages: African American Journeys to  Africa, 1787-2005
By James T. Campbell (2006)

Clearly, the underground railroad was critical to our country's getting beyond slavery, and Harriet Tubman was its iconic leader.  Her large and dedicated network of activists who helped slaves get to safety is linked to our objective today – a coming together to provide on-the-ground support for the disadvantaged in Africa as they reach economic safety.

A Biography of Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life
By Beverly Lowry (2007)

The great debate rages on as to which international aid model will improve upon the dismal results of the past. Paul Collier’s framework is useful for sorting through developmental differences across the continent, but Bill Easterly’s analysis is spot on.  He personally accepted our invitation to pay a site visit to WomensTrust in Pokuase earlier this year and was very impressed.

The Bottom Billion
Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
By Paul Collier (2007)

The White Man’s Burden
Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
By William Easterly (2006)

Why does severe economic discrepancy exist in the world?  Why can’t it be solved simply by just getting people to work hard? The first book is a classic, written in 1970 – its subtitle would read “why poverty is not caused by the poor.” The second book is a lovely complement that captures how stereotyping works as part of the process of oppression.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed
By Paulo Freire (1970)
(750,000 Copies Sold Worldwide)

Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs
Black Women, Food and Power
By Psyche A. Williams-Forson (2006)

Most in Ghana are limited in employment to what’s called the informal economy, where you barely survive and often aren’t even counted as part of GDP.  Here are two books that provide an inside view of the fantastic entrepreneurial drive you witness daily when you’re there.  One of the best investments we can make is in local talent because it’s local people who will lead the creation of industries and jobs.

The Survival of the Fitter
Lives of Some African Engineers
By John Powell (1995)

Onions Are My Husband
Survival and Accumulation by West African Market Women
By Gracia Clark (1994)

One of the potentially most powerful exports of America is our imbedded entrepreneurial spirit borne of the frontier and immigration.  Now add “the power of kindness” and you have a formula to equal out the opportunities on the global playing field.  This is only amplified when we as Americans can acknowledge how the sheer luck of being in the right place impacted our success as individuals.

The Entrepreneurial Imperative
How America’s Economic Miracle Will Reshape the World (and change your life)
By Carl J. Schramm (2006)
(President, The Kauffman Foundation)

The Power of Kindness:
The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life
By Piero Ferrucci (2006)

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© 2008 Dana Dakin, All Rights Reserved