REMEMBERING BINYAVANGA WAINAINA (1971- 2019).
“PHD (Pull Him Down) is a common behaviour in middleclass Africa, evident amongst civil servants, politicians, academics and bureaucrats and born out of self-loathing.
This is its fundamental principle: if we are all mediocre, if there isn’t a single person in our department (for example) doing their job, then we are safe.
Diligence and application becomes threatening and the only recourse is to attack.
People that PHD never deal with facts or attack issues; they attempt character assassination.
I have been on the receiving end of strange, violent and bitter emails as well as newspaper articles that pretend to know who I am, never critically review the work Kwani has produced and that are content to accuse us of elitism, exclusivity and self-importance.
PHD negates intelligence as its intent is to ‘Stick a label, then, Bring ‘Em Down’.”
“These brain-dead robots we produce are so beaten into submission they run around the city wielding brown envelopes with CVs and letters of introduction and spend excruciating hours in cyber cafés looking for scholarships.
Every bit of creative thinking, of bold idea-ing, of do-it-yourselfing is removed.
We have designed a being that makes a good filing clerk; a great book-keeper……We took the colonial system, which was designed to produce dutiful people who don’t ask questions, and perfected it.
What we have now is a system that serves to produce people who simply want the paper certificate to be members.
Ideas have no value.
Mimicry is God.
Vision—that intangible by-product of the wide-reading musical child who always challenged his teachers and who will start some truly innovative company—has been leached away.
In the past few years we have found our high-school education system collapse under the weight of many years of accumulated b****t.
Exams can be bought on the street…….”
“He was….colourful, exotic, larger than life. With his African print blazers (in the brightest colours one can think of), his spiky hair dyed a different colour every time.
…….He was a brilliant writer and sharp thinker, creative and unruly. He left us a memoir, pieces of creative writing, novels in progress, essays, both written and video-performed.
An incredibly rich archive of ideas and thoughts. He was a character, deep and complex………confusing and quirky, humorous and sarcastic, a lover of life, of food, and of whisky, frequently also ranting and raving, angry and upset.
Wainaina embodied a politics of truth, in many aspects of his life.
As a self-declared pan-Africanist and Afropolitan, he was committed to reclaiming African cultures and traditions to free the continent from colonial and neo-colonial social, political, and religious forces.
He was one of the most prominent and vocal African critics, not only of homophobia in Africa, but also of the religious forces that incite and fuel it.”
ADRIAAN VAN KLINKEN.
“The award-winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, is many things to many people.
For some, including myself, he is simply one of the most imaginative and gifted writers at work today.
For others, and again I include myself in this list, he is a pan-African cultural hero, an almost folkloric figure with the capacity to not only constantly surprise his readers, but also inspire collective forward motion.
This is no small feat.
……someone incredibly kind-hearted and fun.
And this is really the image we wanted to capture.
Binyavanga Wainaina may be a cultural phenomenon but he sees the world through a playful lens – albeit one spiked with a rigorous moral and intellectual power.”