How to write about Africa – Binyavanga Wainaina

How to write about Africa – Binyavanga Wainaina
Where does one start? This eclectic collection of essays and articles effectively summarises the career of Binyavanga Wainaina. From Kenya to Transkei for education, to South Africa as student and illegal resident, and back to Kenya as a food fundi and journalist where he died aged 48 in 2019.

The book was recommended to me by a history colleague during one of our then regular discussions about Africa being ignored or, more often, being misrepresented by those who claim to know the continent. Binyavanga tells it as it is, often tongue in cheek. This, mainly in four essays, in a section called ‘A continent of satire’. The other section I enjoyed reading was ‘Away in South Africa and England’, three chapters on being an outsider in Cape Town, food, and Cured of England.

Binyavanga was a survivor – finding ways to make the situation work for him, despite all the odds being stacked against him. While his story is unique, there are similarities with many others, most of whom have, or would, not consider putting their experience down on paper.

See what the New York Times says about him.
And read his essay on How to write about Africa on Grant