Michela Wrong – Keynote Speaker

Author and expert on contemporary African politics

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Michela Wrong Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • African Politics
  • Corruption in modern Africa
  • How aid can help or hinder the process of reform in Africa
  • The distorted impression of modern Africa


  • English


Michela Wrong’s writing on contemporary Africa has become a must-read for diplomats, aid officials, journalists and strategists. Hailed by Harper’s Magazine as “an epic trilogy”, her three non-fiction books feature on the “required reading” lists of International Relations and African Studies university courses and are routinely cited by foreign correspondents and academics working on the continent.


Half-Italian, half-British, Michela Wrong grew up in London and took a degree in Philosophy, Social Sciences and English Literature at Jesus College, Cambridge.


She joined Reuters news agency in the early 1980s and was posted as a foreign correspondent to Italy, France and Ivory Coast. She became a freelance journalist in 1994, when she moved to Zaire and found herself covering both the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda and the final days of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko for the BBC and Reuters. She later moved to Kenya, where she spent four years covering east, west and central Africa for the Financial Times of London.


In 2000 she published her first book, “In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz”, the story of Mobutu’s rise and fall, which won a PEN prize for non-fiction. Her second book, “I didn’t do it for you”, which focused on the rarely-covered Red Sea nation of Eritrea, came out in 2005.


Her third book, published in February 2009, was “It’s Our Turn to Eat”, which tracks the story of Kenyan corruption whistleblower John Githongo, who sought refuge in her London flat when he went on the run. It has sold 35,000 copies to date and triggered expressions of interest from US film companies. It was named as one of the Economist’s “best books of 2009”.


She now lives and works in London and is regularly interviewed by the BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters and NPR on her areas of expertise. She has published opinion pieces and book reviews in the Observer, Guardian, Financial Times, New Statesman, Spectator and Standpoint magazines. She speaks fluent French and Italian.
She was awarded the 2010 James Cameron prize for journalism “that combined moral vision and professional integrity”.


“Michela Wrong is a lively and engaging speaker who succeeds in holding the attention of her audience. She is highly respected in Africa as an objective courageous and insightful analyst.”
Moeletsi Mbeki Executive Chairman Endemol


“Michela Wrong delivered an articulate, entertaining, challenging and authoritative speech that was very well written and delivered with impact. While her speech challenged the aid industry’s established orthodoxy, it was nonetheless well-received and generated discussions described as “very lively and interesting”. Her speech was selected by many as the “highlight of the day”.
Luc Moens Director PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

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