Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa is a non-fiction book written by Stephen Lewis for the Massey Lectures. Lewis wrote it in early to mid-2005 and House of Anansi Press released it as the lecture series began in October 2005. Each of the book's chapters was delivered as one lecture in a different Canadian city, beginning in Vancouver on October 18 and ending in Toronto on October 28. The speeches were aired on CBC Radio One between November 7 and 11. The author and orator, Stephen Lewis, was at that time the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Although he wrote the book and lectures in his role as a concerned Canadian citizen, his criticism of the United Nations (UN), international organizations, and other diplomats, including naming specific people, was called undiplomatic and led several reviewers to speculate whether he would be removed from his UN position.
In the book and the lectures, Lewis argues that significant changes are required to meet the Millennium Development Goals in Africa by their 2015 deadline. Lewis explains the historical context of Africa since the 1980s, citing a succession of disastrous economic policies by international financial institutions that contributed to, rather than reduced, poverty. He connects the structural adjustment loans, with conditions of limited public spending on health and education infrastructure, to the uncontrolled spread of AIDS and subsequent food shortages as the disease infected much of the working-age population. Lewis also addresses such issues as discrimination against women and primary education for children. To help alleviate problems, he ends with potential solutions which mainly require increased funding by G8 countries to levels beyond what they promise.
Book reviewers found the criticisms constructive and the writing sincere. His style focuses less on numbers and statistics, and more on connecting decisions by UN officials and western diplomats to consequences on the ground in Africa. His eyewitness accounts are said to be candid and emotional. The book spent seven weeks at #1 on The Globe and Mail's Nonfiction Bestseller List. A second edition was released in June 2006. The Canadian Booksellers Association awarded its Libris Award for non-fiction book of the year to Race Against Time and its Author of the Year Award to Lewis in 2006.
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