‘How to Write About Africa’: A Tribute to Binyavanga Wainaina

I started reading at a time when many will consider late, but I can say that I fell in love with African fiction harder than many others. One of the first books I read then was written by this brilliant author. The book title ‘One day I will write about this place’ is a memoir. I love reading books that give me an experience and this one, I can promise, does just that.  One of my favorites parts of the book is in the first chapter where the authors describes water. I can say I have never been more thirstier!

The first knowledge I had of his death was from a post made by Chimamada Ngozi Adiche announcing his death. I am sure my heart broke into pieces at the time as I really looked forward to another book from him. Immediately, I went to check if he wrote anything else since his memoir. I came across this article titled ‘How to Write About Africa’ and honestly, it was the most intriguing thing since…..since! To introduce you lovely readers to my literary hero, I decided to do a summary of this piece of perfection below.

How to write about Africa


1. A cover with only prominent Africans. Or if you must, include a picture of one ina a Masai or Zulu or Drogon dress

2. The modern African is a fat man who steals or works in the Visa office refusing to give work permits to qualified westerners………an enemy of development who makes it difficult for the good hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas

3. The starving African must be included with your hero a beautiful tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who bathes, feeds and can teach them.

4.You must describe in detail mutilated genitals, naked breasts, dead bodies, the real Africa – suffering filthy people, and finally no dead/suffering white people

5.Describe Africa as bright with big and red sunsets, and big sky.


4 Replies to “‘How to Write About Africa’: A Tribute to Binyavanga Wainaina”

  1. I think I should check my online archives. I used to enjoy reading books o. I don’t know when and how I got lazy or tired to, these days. The most interesting books I’ve read have been by other Africans. Hahaha but this one just reminded me of that How To Be a Nigerian. I think that’s the title. Hilarious book.

    Do you happen to have a soft copy of this?


    1. I don’t have a soft copy of his memoir -‘one day I will write about this place. However, for the essay – ‘how to write about Africa’, there is a link in the article (if it is not there, I’ll add one).
      As for ‘how to be a Nigerian’, that sounds interesting. Do you have soft copy?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just searched but it isn’t in my phone. But I’m very sure I still have the e-copy. Even though it’s been like 2yrs.

        Send your email. I’ll find it. Maybe in my tab or my email. It has got to be somewhere!


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