Binyavanga Wainaina’s “How to Write About Africa”

Video of Binyavanga Wainaina discussing his seminal, supremely sharp and funny, truly groundbreaking, much-celebrated piece “How to Write About Africa”:

The text itself can be found here: If there had to be one item of required reading for anyone thinking of joining the future SLS-Kenya programs, or just thinking about Africa and its place in the world from time to time — this would be it.

Binyavanga — a terrific, keenly observant, imaginative and intelligent writer, possessed of an instantly recognizable, highly idiosyncratic, hard-won literary voice uniquely his own; winner of the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing, among other such rarified disctinctions — is, at present, a Bard Fellow and the Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and Languages at Bard College. To the broad readership of the world’s leading newspapers’ editorial pages (to which he frequently contributes his immediate takes on the hot Kenya-bound issues at hand) he represents the distilled perspective of the new generation of Africa’s intelligentisia: always thoughtful and direct, finely nuanced, charged with heady, righteous passion. When his heart is engaged in the matter, there simply is no one better. It is in people like him (although admittedly, there is no one quite like him; he is wholly sui generis) upon whose shoulders the hope, however seemingly tentative at the moment, for Kenya’s (not to cast too wide a view over the all-African vista) meaningful political future ultimately may rest.

He is a bona fide force of nature, a great friend of SLS — and a great friend.


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