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Book: The Shackled Continent Author: Robert Guest Price: (Macmillan, ?20)

It was a couple of years ago in Tajikistan, the poorest of the former Soviet republics, that I realised that comparisons between Africa and the former Soviet Union were not completely silly. My hosts, a family of eight, lived in a two-room concrete hut with a dirt floor and leaky roof. Water and electricity were available for just a few hours each week. There were no public services of any kind in their village. Life was supported by subsistence farming and migrant work.

I had met my host, Rustam, on…

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