How To Write About Africa
" Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans. "
In this triumvirate of sharp-witted essays, Wainaina dissects the cliché of Africa and the preconceptions dear to western writers and readers with ruthless precision. In the same fashion, ‘My Clan KC’ undresses the layers of meaning shrouding the identity of the infamous Kenya Cowboy, while ‘Power of Love’ bemusedly recollects the advent of the celebrities-for-Africa phenomenon, heralded by the mid-eighties hit song ‘We Are The World’. It also scrutinizes the international NGO circuit and the transactions between ‘dollar-a-day people’ and $5000-a-month United Nations consultants whose started off as ‘$5-dollar-a-day’, 25-year-old backpackers full of ‘love and compassion’ for the continent.
Binyavanga Wainaina (born 1971) is the founding editor of Kwani?. A Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the 2002 Caine Prize. Wainaina was born in Nakuru in the Rift Valley province. He attended Moi Primary School in Nakuru, Mangu High School in Thika, and Lenana School in Nairobi. He later studied commerce at the University of Transkei in South Africa, after which he worked in Cape Town for some years as a freelance food and travel writer. He is currently the Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.