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How To Write About Africa (Granta 92, The View From Africa)

2005

by Binyavanga Wainaina (1971 - 0)

Originating in a fiercely satirical protest sent by a Kenyan-born author to the editors of Granta, this essay has turned Wainaina into the unofficial ‘censor’ of white writing about Africa and has spawned a whole series of imitative ‘How To Write About’ essays satirising the contemporary clichés attached to various developing countries.

Contrasting two-dimensional portrayals of The Starving African or corrupt bureaucrat with the rounded complexity given to gorillas’ or elephants’ faultless characters, or skewering a certain glib liberalism (‘Blame the West for Africa’s situation. But do not be too specific.’), Wainaina’s hilarious sarcasm has been an important corrective force.

Related recommendation: Wainaina’s ‘In Gikuyu, For Gikuyu, of Gikuyu’(Granta 103, The Rise of the British Gihad, 2008)

Origin: Kenya / United States

Themes: Exile and/or Identity

Genres: Critical, Satirical

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