Book Review: Queen Idia’s Africa – short stories

Queen Idia's Africa -Cordelia SalterI enjoyed this collection of  short stories. These connected stories all imagine a contemporary society in which Africa has developed as a wealthy continent, and is working to finance the development efforts in the lesser developed regions of Western Europe and America.

This overseas development aid is largely intended to stop the flow of desperate European immigrants, risking their lives in leaky boats to reach African shores in hope of a better life. With elections on the horizon, African politicians are under tremendous pressure to show that they are taking a stand against illegal immigration, and bolstering Africa-first policies.

Sound vaguely familiar?

Salter’s sly twist on immigration policies and the international development community is refreshing and clever. Salter is well acquainted with development agenda lexicon, and she clearly has fun turning the tables on many of the modern challenges of the sector – from refugee settlements, to corruption in procurement and distribution, to spoiled celebrities wanting to show up for photo-ops with starving kids, but only those who are photogenic and well-groomed.

Salter covers a lot of ground in this slim volume, and carts out many of the well-worn development clichés. When visiting refugee resettlement camps in the US, only women are provided with work, since men will drink the money away.  A jaded African bureaucrat repeats the same dismissive lines to a desperate European hoping to make a new life in Africa.

A well-written farcical take on serious subjects by an author who clearly knows her subject matter well.

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