Binyavanga Wainaina was born 18 January 1971 and died 21 May 2019
- I like the idea of readers feeling a familiarity, whether it’s with Africa or childhood.
- When I went to live in South Africa, I immediately began to understand what went wrong. Because here was a place supposed to be under apartheid – I arrived there in 1991 – but here a black person had more say and had more influence over his white government than an average Kenyan had over the Moi government.
- There’s no point for me in being a writer and having all these blocked places where I feel I can’t think freely and imagine freely.
- Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel prize.
- We are a mixed up people. We have mixed up ways of naming, too… When my father’s brothers and sisters first went to colonial schools, they had to produce a surname. They also had to show they were good Christians by adopting a western name. They adopted my grandfather’s name as surname. Wainaina.
- I love playing with words and texture.
- When art as an expression starts to appear, without prompting, all over the suburbs and villages of this country, what we are saying is: we are confident enough to create our own living, our own entertainment, our own aesthetic. Such an aesthetic will not be donated to us from the corridors of a university; or from the Ministry of Culture, or by the French Cultural Centre. It will come from the individual creations of a thousand creative people.
- It is an aspect of Kenya I am always acutely aware of – and crave, because I don’t have it all. My third language, Gikuyu, is nearly non-existent; I can’t speak it. It is a phantom limb.
- All people have dignity. There’s nobody who was born without a soul and a spirit.
Binyavanga Wainaina was a Kenyan author, journalist, and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. He is the author of One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir. He was also a well-known LGBT activist. He is perhaps best known for his scathingly satirical essay How to Write About Africa, which was published in Granta in 2005.
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