Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

African Miracle, African Mirage
Transnational Politics and the Paradox of Modernization in Ivory Coast

By Abou B. Bamba

“Abou Bamba shows that rather than accepting a subordinate economic relationship to France, leaders of the Côte d'Ivoire sought to play foreign powers and investors off against each other. Looking in detail at development projects, he makes an important and revealing contribution to the growing field of development history.”

Frederick Cooper, author of Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State

“What is innovative in the book’s point of view … is its emphasis on the penetration, in the postwar years, of American ideas and development processes, creating a competitor with France for the control of the country.”

Journal of European Economic History

“Drawing on historical documents and oral histories in Ivory Coast, France, and the United States, Bamba’s book challenges conventional understandings of development in postcolonial Francophone Africa.”

Kim Y Dionne, Washington Post online

“This book is a worthy contribution to the growing literature on development policies in the 1960s and 1970s. For specialists outside of Africa engaged with development … African Miracle, African Mirage deserves attention as a way of making comparisons. … this could be an effective textbook in graduate courses on postcolonial African history and the history of development.”

Canadian Journal of History

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Ivory Coast was touted as an African miracle, a poster child for modernization and the ways that Western aid and multinational corporations would develop the continent. At the same time, Marxist scholars—most notably Samir Amin—described the capitalist activity in Ivory Coast as empty, unsustainable, and incapable of bringing real change to the lives of ordinary people. To some extent, Amin’s criticisms were validated when, in the 1980s, the Ivorian economy collapsed.

In African Miracle, African Mirage, Abou B. Bamba incorporates economics, political science, and history to craft a bold, transnational study of the development practices and intersecting colonial cultures that continue to shape Ivory Coast today. He considers French, American, and Ivorian development discourses in examining the roles of hydroelectric projects and the sugar, coffee, and cocoa industries in the country’s boom and bust. In so doing, he brings the agency of Ivorians themselves to the fore in a way not often seen in histories of development. Ultimately, he concludes that the “maldevelopment” evident by the mid-1970s had less to do with the Ivory Coast’s “insufficiently modern” citizens than with the conflicting missions of French and American interests within the context of an ever-globalizing world.

Abou B. Bamba is an associate professor of history and Africana studies at Gettysburg College.   More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $29.56 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $36.95 · Save 20% ($29.56)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Buy an eBook

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of African Miracle, African Mirage

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $36.95, S.
Release date: November 2016
14 illus. · 320 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World


Release date: November 2016
14 illus. · 320 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for African Miracle, African Mirage

“A significant contribution to the study of the relations between the United States and African Francophone countries.…Bamba’s conclusion eloquently casts a different spotlight on the causes of the rapid economic success of Ivory Coast. He offers new insights into the ‘miracle’ that was previously always attributed to the wise strategy of Houphouët-Boigny…A noteworthy contribution to literature on Ivory Coast."

African Studies Review

Related Titles

Cover of 'Soldiers of Misfortune'

Soldiers of Misfortune
lvoirien Tirailleurs of World War II
By Nancy Ellen Lawler

This is a study of the African veterans of a European war. It is a story of men from the Cote d‘Ivoire, many of whom had seldom traveled more than a few miles from their villages, who served France as tirailleurs (riflemen) during World War II.

African History · World War II · Colonialism and Decolonization · Military History · Cote d'Ivoire · African Studies · French History · France

Cover of 'Triumph of the Expert'

Triumph of the Expert
Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism
By Joseph Morgan Hodge

Triumph of the Expert is a history of British colonial policy and thinking and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policies in the late colonial and postcolonial period. Joseph Morgan Hodge examines the way that development as a framework of ideas and institutional practices emerged out of the strategic engagement between science and the state at the climax of the British Empire.

African History · History | Historical Geography · African Studies · History · Environmental Policy · Colonialism and Decolonization

Cover of 'Resurrecting the Granary of Rome'

Resurrecting the Granary of Rome
Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa
By Diana K. Davis

Tales of deforestation and desertification in North Africa have been told from the Roman period to the present. Such stories of environmental decline in the Maghreb are still recounted by experts and are widely accepted without question today. International organizations such as the United Nations frequently invoke these inaccurate stories to justify environmental conservation and development projects in the arid and semiarid lands in North Africa and around the Mediterranean basin.

History | Historical Geography · Colonialism and Decolonization · African History · Northern Africa · African Studies

Cover of 'Colonial Meltdown'

Colonial Meltdown
Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression
By Moses E. Ochonu

Historians of colonial Africa have largely regarded the decade of the Great Depression as a period of intense exploitation and colonial inactivity. In Colonial Meltdown, Moses E. Ochonu challenges this conventional interpretation by mapping the responses of Northern Nigeria’s chiefs, farmers, laborers, artisans, women, traders, and embryonic elites to the British colonial mismanagement of the Great Depression.

History | Africa | West · History | Modern | General · Colonialism and Decolonization · Nigeria · Western Africa · Africa · African Studies · Great Depression

Sign up to be notified when new African Studies titles come out.

We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.