March 17, On African Optimism In an article in the latest issue of Granta entitled "How to Write about Africa," Binyavanga Wainaina sarcastically advises would-be journalists and authors to write as though the continent is a single primordial entity, complete with bare-chested noble savages, destitute but jolly.
This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother's religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya.
The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, ina writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along.
A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. His descriptions dance, they sing, they jump, syncopated, a lively, twisting flow like swift water, throwing rainbows of unexpected images into the air.
In a pressing, urgent present tense at all times, his tale is vibrant and always fresh, even when he describes lethargy and depression.
Language itself is his subject at times, as he shares how Kenyan people, with their many mother tongues, use Kiswahili to show respect, invoke fellowship, leverage solidarity and subtly feel out a situation.
I can never experience this, so it's wonderful to get a little taste of its richness through Wainaina's showing.
Thinking about language in Kenya of course I think of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and he is here! Wainaina shows how the national figure and his ideas entered his awareness as a young, relatively privileged Kenyan. How tribal conflict came to the fore after Moi's rule through the legacy of colonialism is integral to his biography and emerges clearly.
His mother, from Uganda, linked him to events there and in Rwanda. Wainaina is well known for the essay he wrote sending up the way Africa is portrayed in Euro-American narratives and he returns to his disgust and mockery of the narrative of Africa as a poverty sticken disaster zone requiring urgent white saviour intervention always blissfully free from any notion of how any kind of privation arose at salient points in his text.
He perhaps intended his memoir to contrast with that self-serving and disingenous story, but he doesn't give it the time of day; he doesn't answer it, just paints his own views of the places he visits.
In his account, drab Nairobi contrasts vividly with stylish Lome, capital of Togo. Arid Kenya contrasts with lush Uganda, Maasailand is completely exotic and thrilling to him as a modern, urban young person.
I was jolted by the frequent appearance of African American pop icons and other contemporary, global culture, showing that I have been drinking the colonial lemonade myself. On writing about Sudan on commission from an EU organisation which didn't want to publish the book, because it didn't say the right things, he had this to say: I start to understand why so little good literature is produced in Kenya.
The talent is wasted writing donor-funded edutainment and awareness-raising brochures for seven thousand dollars a job. Do not complicate things, and you will be paid very well. Maybe that's why he founded The Kwani Trust I can't end without mentioning how likeable I found the author.
There's nothing self-aggrandising about this memoir at all, and while it's painful and to me, familiar as I had a similar experience in high school to read about his periods of withdrawal as a student, he always owns his economic privilege, and it's heart-warming to read how his family's gentleness and sensitivity in strong contrast to the stereotype of authoritarian African parents pulled him through.
I cared about him a lot and felt all the bumps and all the highs. Tutto il continente assiste, quasi ogni uomo e donna, siamo un miliardo: I loved the pace of the writing. It felt a lot like an easy bike ride, up and down a bunch of hills, with the pace reaching crescendoes and giving way to lulls and then even higher crescendoes.
A glorious tale of coming of age in a world that was still coming to terms with itself, first in Daniel Arap Moi's Kenya where old, structured, colonial ways of being and thinking gave way to a world where one's connections mattered more than what they knew.
The story exemplifies the crisis facing middle class Kenya, where tribe matters first, before other things are considered. He had his chances at success in the traditional way, study and go to good schools, get a degree, then make something of yourself, but he became a writer, winning prizes and getting commissioned to write pieces here and there.
But still, the man is forced to face his 'Kikuyuness', a culture which he is unfamiliar with, and given his Ugandan name, he is generally unfamiliar with.
The ending was rather formulaic though. He gets diabetes, like his mother did, and the Post-Election violence and Kenya starts to shake in the same way Uganda at the beginning of the book, under Idi Amin, has suffered. A brilliant, fast-paced read, with beautiful imagery to boot.
Chapter 18 is the best of anything ever created. How does Wainaina remain completely and utterly within both his tender internal life and the buzzing-about world?
Delicious anti-racist rejection of most writing 'about Africa.You do not slouch about Wimpy restaurants looking like Shabba-Doo or Boogaloo Shrimp or Michael Jackson and call yourself Binyavanga wa Wainaina.
You do not go to Bubbles nightclub and say to some chick, Hi, my name is Binyavanga wa Wainaina. Binyavanga Wainaina's essay 'How to Write About Africa' uses humor, satire and irony to expose the many clichés and stereotypes used by Western writers in their treatment of Africa.
Under the. Submissions to the annual literary contests are now open. We offer three $1,dollar first-place prizes for fiction, poetry and nonfiction. The judges for the literary. M 5/22 work on poetry analysis essay (Choose a theme, message or idea from the poem and explain how (i.e.
Start studying Colonial and Post Colonial Final. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The Nigerian-Belgian writer Chika Unigwe wrote the satirical inspired by the Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina’s piece “How to Write about Africa”, and which is also digitally available as “How to be an African,” albeit in revised form. Nov 12, - PM Binyavanga Wainaina One Day I Will Write About This Place A Memoir A New York Times Notable Book A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle class Kenyan childhood out of kilt.
imagery, figurative language, sound devices) the poet develops that theme, message, or idea.) Use the essay in the poetry handout as a model essay. Binyavanga Wainaina is one of Kenya's best-known writers. Now he is one of the most prominent figures in Africa to announce that he's gay.
Wainaina did so Saturday, his 43rd birthday, in a piece. Start studying Colonial and Post Colonial Final. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.