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In March 2009 a violent crisis in one of Africa’s smallest countries, Guinea-Bissau, focused international attention on the impact of drugs and the drugs trade in Africa. Africa had previously figured only marginally in accounts of global trafficking, and in the postwar era international drug policy makers had largely ignored the continent. Now, suddenly, reports described Guinea-Bissau as Africa’s “first narco-state." 1 The country’s politics had apparently been corrupted by Latin American cocaine transhipped through West Africa on its way to European consumer markets. The Bissau-Guinean president and head of the armed forces were both killed in March 2009, allegedly in a turf war over the control of the cocaine trade. 2 Since then, the higher echelons of the military have been portrayed as deeply implicated in the cocaine trade. Crack cocaine use has also reportedly risen in the country, apparently the result of the spillover from the expanding transit trade. 3 Most ominously, reports suggested that these events in this small country were by no means isolated, but simply the most extreme example of an African drug crisis. Alarms were sounded, as West Africa was depicted as the “cocaine coast," and emergency debates on the dangers of drugs and crime in the region were held at the highest international levels. 4 Incidences of drug trafficking and alleged related corruption were also highlighted in East Africa, while continent-wide accounts of growing rates of addiction further depicted Africa as gravely imperilled by these substances and their traffickers.5.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrugs in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationHistories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade, and Control
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781137321916
ISBN (Print)9781137321893
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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