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Why States Recover by Greg Mills Launched with Johnny Clegg, Nicky Oppenheimer and Olusegun Obasanjo

Nicky Oppenheimer, Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo and Johnny Clegg

Johnny CleggWhy States RecoverAccomplished author and director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation Greg Mills launched his new book, Why States Recover: Changing Walking Societies into Winning Nations – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, on Wednesday.

The launch was held at Villa Arcadia in Johannesburg, with many distinguished guests in attendance and an amazing ambience.

Greeted at the door, guests walked in to find themselves well catered for, with attentive staff offering snacks, and there was happy chatter while guests explored the spacious venue.

The crowd settled into the main hall, which was decked out with chairs and ample place to stand. The first speaker and MC of the event needed no introduction as he walked on stage; Nicky Oppenheimer, South African billionaire businessman, introduced former Nigerian president and a hero of Mills’, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Obasanjo praised the instructive value of the book and said: “I vehemently believe that if there’s one book that can change Africa in this world, then surely this is the book.”

Mills thanked Obasanjo, the Oppenheimer family and his own family before delving into how the book came about. He described Why States Recover as essentially a travel log, written as a story, which fundamentally captures his personal experiences over the last decade of working for the Oppenheimers on various deployments as a presidential advisor across Africa. His eloquent presentation was accompanied by an easy flow of laughs and captured the audience’s attention, as well as reeling them into the book’s many facets.

Singer and anthropologist Johnny Clegg was the next big name to hit the stage and joked about being the “entertainment part of the evening”. He explained how walking societies, such as the Zulu people, differ from non-walking societies, in that they have “a different notion of time and social duration, and that also affects politics”. Clegg believes that walking societies have a more “cyclic” understanding of time, and are at ease with events taking longer to occur, unlike Western societies, who have a more linear understanding of time. The evening ended on a high note with Clegg performing some songs concerned with the act of walking.

Afterwards, the guests lined up to have their copy of Why States Recover signed by Mills, and staying a while longer for some more wine and conversation.

Kirsty Mitchell (@BookTattler) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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