Friday, November 11, 2011

How to write about Africa by award winning author Binyavanga Wainaina

Writing in the literary magazine, Granta, awardwinning author, Binyavanga Wainaina, pens a satirical piece on the Western psyche titled, "How to write about Africa". Wainaina, the Caine award winner of 2001 and editor of the online literary magazine Kwani?, says, in part: "Sunsets and starvation are good. Always use the word Africa or Darkness or Safari in your title. Sub-titles may include the words Zanzibar, Maasai, Zulu, Zambezi, Congo, Nile, Big, Sky, Shadow, Drum, Sun or Bygone. Also useful are words such as Guerrillas, Timeless, Primordial and Tribal. Note that People means Africans who are not black, while The People means black Africans...."

Wainaina adds: "Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African's cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it - because you care. Taboo subjects: Ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of schoolgoing children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation. Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader.."