Africa: the Scramble for Survival

The Great Rift Valley can be seen from space. It shears down the eastern shoulder of Africa, a vast geological gash, one of the mysteries of the continent's power. Human life began in the Rift, as if it were gleaming up through a crack in the world.

Africa has a genius for extremes, for the beginning and the end. It seems simultaneously connected to some memory of Eden and to some foretaste of apocalypse. Nowhere is day more vivid or night darker. Nowhere are forests more luxuriant. Nowhere is there a continent more miserable.

Africa -- sub-Saharan Africa, at least --...

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