African Journeys

Next year is the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence, the first African country to gain its freedom from Britain. To mark the event, African journalist and author Aidan Hartley presents a series on the continent's post-independence history.


01Big Men, Big Hopes20061227

Aidan looks at the Big Men of that era, the charismatic figures who became the fathers of their nations. They came to power not just with big hopes but with their own particular 'isms' - ideological blueprints they hoped would guide their new countries.

Aidan travels to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia to ask why these home brewed philosophies served the new nations so badly.


Aidan Hartley investigates the corruption and mismanagement by politicians across the continent of Africa which effectively keeps the rural population in a state of poverty.

Kenya's farmers grow some of the world's best coffee, commanding top prices on the international markets. They should be rich but they are not - so where has the money gone?

Across a continent where three quarters of the people are still farmers, the same situation applies to whatever cash or food crop is being grown.

03The Men In Khaki20070110

Aidan Hartley travels to West Africa to talk to two men who were once the world's youngest leaders - Jerry Rawlings who seized power in Ghana aged 32, and Valentine Strasser, who took over in Sierra Leone aged 26.

Both young military officers seemed to offer new hope for their countries. Now, Rawlings is Ghana's elder statesman, while Strasser spends his days drinking palm wine at a roadside shack and lives at home with his mother.

04 LASTBrave New World20070117

By the 1980s, Africa's economies were in such a ruinous state that the World Bank and IMF insisted on 'structural adjustment'. State industries were privatised and civil servants sacked.

The result was a huge rise in the number of people making a living in the 'informal economy', often holding several subsistence-level jobs at once. In Kenya it's known as 'jua kali' - literally 'working in the hot sun'. Aidan Hartley travels to the Kenya/Uganda border to explore the jua kali world.