George Ayittey

Ghanaian political economist

George Ayittey was a celebrated Ghanaian political economist, professor, author, ardent advocate of democracy and free markets, and founding member of the Human Rights Foundation’s International Council. For more than four decades, Ayittey was a public intellectual who called out authoritarianism as the root cause of all of the world’s worst problems and challenged deep-rooted dogmas about the causes of Africa’s problems, foreign aid, and development. He coined the phrases “African solutions to African problems,” “Africa is poor because she is not free,” and “Africa’s cheetah generation.” In 1993, he founded the Free Africa Foundation to serve as a catalyst for his vision for Africa. In the late 1990s, he helped Ghana’s opposition parties unify into a victorious electoral alliance in the 2000 presidential elections, which marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history and the end of nearly two decades of the dictatorship of former military ruler Jerry Rawlings. Some of his most influential books include “Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World,” “Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future, Indigenous African Institutions,” and “Africa Betrayed.” His historic 2007 TED talk, “Africa’s cheetahs versus hippos,” received more than 23 million views online. He died in 2022.

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