‘Africa is a shambles, beset by ghastly levels of disease and destitution. In the December issue of GQ, George Saunders travels the continent with Bill Clinton, the man who’s doing everything in his power to make it better.’
That’s the tag-line for a fluff piece aimed at restoring Clinton’s legacy on Africa. Remember Clinton was President when the United States refused to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 and he is still trying to undo that legacy. Predictably there is no mention of those events reviewed here by the Guardian.
Not the first time Africa has stood in as a backdrop for a prominent Westerner to resurrect his or her career (most recent candidate: Bono who re-invented himself as a ‘magazine editor’).
Unfortunately you have buy the magazine to read the whole piece (if you can suffer through it), but the magazine has been kind to include a soft-ball interview by the writer George Sanders with Clinton here (the genocide does not come up in the interview). You get a sense of the ‘interview’ from this answer by Clinton:
Africa’s pretty great, don’t you think? One of the other journalists asked me why I liked it here so much. And I said, you know, I love traveling the world … But I believe that on this continent, under the most adverse circumstances, in country after country, you find the highest percentage of the people that go through every day with a song in their heart. It reminds me of when I was a little boy, you know? When I was born in Arkansas at the end of World War II, the per capita income was barely half the national average. So by conventional American standards it was quite a poor place. But the people I knew didn’t consider themselves poor as long as they had clothes to wear and food to eat and they could feed somebody else if they showed up at the door. They didn’t think about it. And they learned to enjoy the rhythms of daily life and their interactions with their neighbors and to live without a lot of resentments and anxieties. So the trick is to keep the song in their hearts and allow them to shed their shackles. They refuse to let their lives pass by just because they’re poor. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Can’t make this stuff up.