The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out

Edited By: Yoshimi Kusaba

Illustrated by: Gaku Nakagawa

Translated by: Andrew Wong

For Ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Politicians, Capitalism, Environmental Activism, Sustainability, History, Historical Figures.


This book’s text is taken from a 2012 speech given at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the president of Uruguay speaks about human consumption and the greed that is caused by capitalism. José Mujica is often referred to as the “world’s poorest president” because he donated 90% of his salary to charity, continued to live on his farm rather than the presidential palace, and drove his own car.

This speech is a beautiful call to action for global citizens to self-reflect and think about what the culture of consumerism and wealth hoarding has done to our planet and to our society. Mujica calls out the systems that purposefully design items to become obsolete in order to create more profits, and the ideologies that the greater capitalist society insist will make us happy. “Economic growth and progress must add to human happiness, not take away from it” Mujica insists in his speech. This is a brilliant outlook on life, one that all of us would benefit from having. When capitalist greed drives our decisions, it’s detrimental to the most marginalized as well as our own happiness. Mujica became a folk hero (specifically in Japan) because of his insistence to live the way that he speaks on in this speech to the UN. I really loved this book, and the idea to turn a speech into a story that is inviting and thoughtful is very appealing to me. The illustrations are bright and engaging, and I can’t wait to have discussions with young people about their thoughts on it!

This was kindly sent by Enchanted Lion, but all opinions are my own. The book will be released tomorrow, August 18th!

Gaku Nakagawa

Born in the temple “Zuisenji”, Kyoto in 1966, Gaku Nakagawa studied Buddhist art at university and worked as a copywriter soon after graduation. From 1996 he began work as a freelance illustrator as well as being a monk.

Gaku is a regular contributer to Monocle Magazine as well as working with different clients and media, from Government pamphlets for the municipal offices and educational booklets for his temple, to international magazines, websites, and a selection of published books.

Yoshimi Kusaba is an editor and the author of and contributor to several books.

This book’s translator, Andrew Wong, was born in Singapore, and now lives in Tokyo. He spent six years away from Tokyo in Stirling, Scotland, and Fukui, Japan, which sowed in him ideas on different ways of life. Often wandering in and out of picture books and imaginary worlds with his wife and two children, his passion to share these worlds drives a blog on stories that he hopes will one day find a worldwide audience. This book is his first published translation.

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