Of an estimated 1 billion people in the world who are trapped in a cycle of grinding poverty and despair, a disproportionate number live in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this account, Moeletsi Mbeki analyses the plight of Africa and concludes that the fault lies not with the mass of its people but with its rulers - the political elites who contrive to keep their fellow citizens poor while enriching themselves.
Concentrating mainly on South Africa, his country of birth, and Zimbabwe, his home when he was in exile, Mbeki tells a tale of lost opportunities and extinguished hopes.
Yet Mbeki is no Afro-pessimist. Along with his candid expose of the problems, he poses some suggestions about what needs to be done to break the stranglehold of the African elites on political power and to set sub-Saharan Africa once more on the road to development.