LOMÉ IN CONTEXT President Omar Bongo of the West African state of Gabon was widely quoted in 1990 when he referred to the ‘wind from the East that is shaking the coconut trees’. That wind from the East, marking the end of the socialist system as a viable alternative to Western-style democracy, brought profound changes to Africa. On the one hand, by 1991 over half of the forty-five sub-Saharan states had, with greater and lesser conviction, committed themselves to democracy. This was a welcome step forward from the era of widespread personal, military and often corrupt rule which followed decolonization. On the other hand, changes in Eastern Europe and the former USSR preoccupied West Europeans, allowing development in general and Africa in particular to slip further down their agenda.