Monday, May 4, 2009

How Not to Write About Africa - Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina is a writer and newly appointed director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and Languages at Bard College. He wrote this satire piece for Granta magazine, where you will find a full transcript of the following video.

When I came across this video at Jack and Jill Politics, I was compelled to post it. Much of the way that westerners speak about Africa is decidedly homogenized and racist.   The mere fact that we routinely refuse to acknowledge that Africa is a continent and therefore broken up into various countries speaks to our desire to construct its people as backward and uncivilized.  The perpetuation of this  myth is used to justify the neo-colonialism that we continue to engage in.   Even as we continue to fuel wars through the purposeful selling of arms to warring factions,  give tied aid (aid that is tied to the purchase of a commodity), demand the devaluation of currency, refuse to cancel spurious debt, only permit the export of raw materials, and occupy land that is not our own we still have the nerve to construct Africa as some defiled Eden for which we bare no responsibility for.  If Africa is need of saving, it is from Western largesse.

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