Kenya: 6 Memorable Quotes From Binyavanga Wainaina's Writings

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Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina, who passed away in Nairobi on Tuesday, was one of the most popular Kenyan author of his generation.

Other than his controversial social life Wainaina was also known for some amazing speech and quotations from his writings.

Here are a few of his famous quotes:

“International correspondents with their long dictaphones, and dirty jeans, and five hundred words before whiskey, are slouched over the red velvet chairs, in the VIP section in the front, looking for the Story: the Most Macheteing Deathest, Most Treasury Corruptest, Most Entrail-Eating Civil Warest, Most Crocodile-Grinning Dictatorest, MOst Heart-Wrenching and Genociding Pulitzerest, Most Black Big-Eyed Oxfam Child Starvingest, Most Wild African Savages Having AIDS-Ridden Sexest with Genetically Mutilatedest Girls…The Most Authentic Real Black Africanest story they can find…”  – (One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir)

“Or airport welcoming procedures… Dancing girls in grass skirts singing, ‘A-wimbowe, a-wimbowe…’Dancing men singing, ‘A-wimbowe, a-wimbowe… ‘Giant warrior with lion whiskers and shiny black make-up walks on all fours towards clapping German tourists, flexing his muscles and growling, ‘A-wimbowe, a-wimbowe…’ In the jungle…” –  (The Granta Book of the African Short Story)

“I have learned that I, 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… 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 would be comfortable.” –  (Binyavanga on why Africa’s international image is unfair)

“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.” –  (Kwani?)

“Cloud travel is well and good when you have mastered the landings. I never have. I must live, not dream about living.” – (One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir)

“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…”  – Kwani?

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