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House of Anansi Press

Race Against Time

Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa The CBC Massey Lectures

Written by Stephen Lewis

Published October 01, 2005 | ISBN 9780887848759
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing & Emerging Countries

Cover of Race Against Time

Regular price $16.95 CAD

224 pages
Digital Format

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About this book

Race Against Time

Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa

The CBC Massey Lectures

Stephen Lewis

"I have spent the last four years watching people die." With these wrenching words, diplomat and humanitarian Stephen Lewis opens his 2005 CBC Massey Lectures. Lewis's determination to bear witness to the desperate plight of so many in Africa and elsewhere is balanced by his unique, personal, and often searing insider's perspective on our ongoing failure to help.

Lewis recounts how, in 2000, the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York introduced eight Millennium Development Goals, which focused on fundamental issues such as education, health, and cutting poverty in half by 2015. In audacious prose, alive with anecdotes ranging from maddening to hilarious to heartbreaking, Lewis shows why and how the international community is falling desperately short of these goals.

This edition includes an afterword by Lewis, covering events after the lectures were delivered in fall 2005.


A UN meeting was planned for May 31 to June 2, 2006, to review the progress that had been made since a Declaration of Commitment on hiv/aids had been endorsed by the international community some five years earlier. I had occasion to be speaking again with Mark in early February, when he suddenly said that he had a delicate/awkward matter to raise with me. Apparently there was a possibility that President Bush would attend the UN meeting scheduled for the end of May, and the UN desperately wanted him to be there. I had been told (I can surmise by whom, but it was never revealed) that if I were to attack the United States before that date, the president probably wouldn't come. You must understand that though I take myself overly seriously from time to time, it was a bit much to think that my words could deter the President of the UNited States. Nonetheless, Mark said to me (I think I'm capturing it with authentic accuracy), "Stephen, I must ask you, no, I must plead with you, no, I must instruct you that you are not to attack U.S. policy before the meeting in May. I don't care what you do after that, but beforehand, you must refrain from criticism." I could scarce credit what I was hearing. I laughed again, and told Mark that it seemed to me that things were verging on the absurd. On the other hand, I also assured him that I had no immediate plans to go on the attack, and if I did, I'd let him know in advance and resign with appropriate dignity. I relate these surreal circumstances because they speak to an UNlovely pattern of Pavlovian obeisance to the UNited States. Apparently, criticism is permitted of the G8, Tony Blair's Commission on Africa, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the Government of South Africa, the Government of Zimbabwe, the King of Swaziland, and the United Nations itself -- all of whom this book excoriates from time to time -- but almost never the sacrosanct "integrity" of the United States of America. But that's only one small part of my postscript to these lectures. There's much more, and of a far more telling nature.
About the Author

Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis is the former UN Secretary-General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Visit Stephen Lewis' website: Visit Stephen Lewis' blog: Follow Stephen Lewis on Twitter:

Awards and Praise
  • Short-listed Writers' Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize, 2005
  • Winner Non-Fiction, 2006
  • Winner CBA Libris Award - Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2006
  • Short-listed Trillium Book Award, 2006