Posted in book review

How to Write about Africa

Title: How to Write About Africa
Author: Binyavanga Wainaina
Pages: 52
My GR rate: 4/5
Genre: Non-Fiction
Published: 2006

Humor. Satire. These are the key ingredients that make this book worth reading. Every chapter, page and story sparks a very interesting turn of events. Surreal are these actions that looking back and now, nothing much has changed. History remains the same. Never changes which probably robs us the opportunity to develop and grow as a nation and individuals.


In How to Write about Africa, Wainaina portrays negative energy that actually sells to other Western countries. Africa is believed to be a country where poverty, malnourishment, problems, corruption, deserts, dry lands, dust, unheard of meals, famine, diseases, music that goes deep and big sunsets reigns. These should be evident when writing about it to arouse donors and NGOs who always camp in it for aid purposes. Binyavanga also warns writers to never blame the Whites for African problems.


My Clan KC short story did not quite stir the wow and aaah in me. I really tried to fathom the diary of this anonymous writer to some extent the vibe matched that of the many problems in Africa. I hope he/she was granted membership to the Kenya Cowboy group.


A Japanese cow was one of the best entries to the book in the Power of Love story. Wainaina narrates how much love has poured to Nairobi, For the Girl Child, for many hundreds of Awarenesss, for Poverty Eradication, for the Angelina Jolification and Anti-Desertification of Semi-Arid regions in Sahelian Countries. More is explored of the donor world that continues to show love by aid. Despite all these unconditional love, Wainaina compares us to a Japanese cow.


“…we are a dollar-a-day people which is terrible, they say, because a cow in Japan is worth $9 a day. This means that a Japanese cow would be a middle-class Kenyan. Now, a dollar-a-day person cannot know what is good for him-which means that a $9-a-day cow from Japan could very well head a humanitarian NGO in Kenya. Massages are very cheap in Nairobi, so the cow will be comfortable.”