Library Weekly

The ASCL's Library Weekly is our library’s weekly spotlight on African people and events. Inspired by the SciHiBlog, this service is based on information retrieved from Wikipedia and Wikidata and is completed with selected titles from the ASCL Library Catalogue. 

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Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival (Wikimedia Commons, Nightscream, CC-BY-3.0)On 21 May 2019, Kenyan author and gay rights activist Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina passed away, aged 48. Wainaina made a revolutionary impact on literature from and about the African continent. He is perhaps best known for his satirical essay How to Write About Africa (Granta 2005) in which he brilliantly exposed African clichés and stereotypes often relied upon by Western writers.: “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. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these …”

In 2002, Wainaina won the Caine prize for African writing, worth £10,000. He used his prize money to found the Kenya-based literary magazine, Kwani? (meaning “so what?”), which would become one of the most influential platforms for writing across the African continent.

In January 2014, in response to a wave of anti-gay laws passed in Africa, Wainaina publicly announced that he was a homosexual; first writing an essay that he described as a "lost chapter" of his 2011 memoir entitled "I am a Homosexual, Mum", and then tweeting: "I am, for anybody confused or in doubt, a homosexual. Gay, and quite happy."

Loving all things culinary, Wainaina collected over 13,000 recipes from around Africa. He was an expert on traditional and modern African cuisine.

In April 2014, he was mentioned in Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. His citation was written by Ngozie Adichie.

Wainaina, born 18 January 1971 in Nakuru, Kenya, died from a fatal stroke on the evening of 21 May 2019, at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi.

(Sources: Wikipedia and the Guardian)

Selected publications

The Fabulous Pan-Africanism of Binyavanga Wainaina / Laura Edmondson.
In: GLQ, vol.26 (3), p.529-560, 2020

Affiliation, Disavowal, and National Commitment in Third Generation African Literature / Madhu Krishnan.
In: Ariel,vol.44 (1), p.73-97, 2013

One day I will write about this place : a memoir / Binyavanga Wainaina. - London : Granta, 2012

How to write about Africa / Binyavanga Wainaina. Nairobi : Kwani Trust, 2011

Kwani? Literary activists / Billy Kahora; Binyavanga Wainaina; Madeleine Grive.
Filmed event during the book fair 'Bok & Bibliotek' held in Gothenburg, Sweden, 23-26 September 2010. 20 minutes.

If the nation is a car ... / Binyavanga Wainaina.
In: Wajibu, volume 23 #1-2. p. 24-26, 2008

Beyond the River Yei : life in the land where sleeping is a disease / Binyavanga Wainaina.
Nairobi : [Kwani], [ca. 2004]

Discovering home : [stories from the Caine Prize for African writing 2002] / Binyavanga Wainaina. - Johannesburg : Jacana, 2003

Kwani?/ Kwani Trust (Nairobi). - Nairobi : Kwani Trust, 2003-

The reality constructed by stories / Binyavanga Wainaina.  TEDGlobal 2007

Timeline of Binyavanga Wainaina via Wikidata