"Your Daily Dose of Buzzworthy Content!"

‘How to Write About Africa: Collected Works’ Shows Binyavanga Wainaina’s Legacy

ByTeam BB

May 29, 2023

Indeed, there are many aspects of Wainaina to relish in “How to Write About Africa.” He is especially expressive when depicting Nairobi, a city that enraptured him. “The Kikuyu grass by the side of the road is crying silver tears the color of remembered light; Nairobi is a smoggy haze in the distance,” he writes in “Discovering Home.” “Soon the innocence that dresses itself in mist will be shoved aside by a confident sun, and the chase for money will reach its crescendo.”

At the same time, as Iduma points out, it is “difficult to think of a writer of his generation who was as Pan-African as he was.” His exuberant piece on the Togo team at the 2006 World Cup, “The Most Authentic, Blackest, Africanest Soccer Team,” builds to a thrilling conclusion as simultaneous celebrations break out “on wailing coral balconies in Zanzibar, in a dark, rumba-belting, militia-ridden bar in Lubumbashi, in rickety video shops in Dakar” and beyond.

“He had a gift for breezing through national borders like they were just lines in the sand,” Barrett said. “He was very Kenyan but also seemed as Nigerian, Ugandan, Senegalese and South African as the writers he sought out.”

And then there is the rush created by Wainaina’s language, which moves to its own syncopation. It’s barbed, playful, inventive. “What thrills me every time I read it,” Iduma said, “is the sense that Wainaina’s true gift was finding the rhythm within language, drumming up words until they sang.” In one piece, for example, he mocks “the history, the rumor, the myth, the praise, the double-eye” and “the crocodile-grinning farce” of leaders.

Wainaina was an original whose work offered a more expansive vision of African writing. He was not to be hemmed in. His 2014 essay “I Am a Homosexual, Mum” made clear his bravery as well and turned him into one of Africa’s most prominent critics of anti-gay discrimination. He defined himself on his own terms, not least in his writing.

Source link