Written by : Oluoch Madiang
Follow him on Twitter: @African_Owl
|Billy Kahora: ‘This is not a French novel, it is simpler!|
Binyavanga Wainaina and I first met at The Courtyard, Nakuru in 2005. He had a laptop, I had a pencil and paper. He had a bag, I had a pocket. He smoked and drank and ate. I drank and ate. He was schooled at Moi Primary School, I schooled at Flamingo Primary School. It is amazing that he would start his memoirs with a domestic soccer masquerade. For Flamingo Primary School used to beat Moi Primary School 14-0 in the Central Zone of the Nakuru Municipality Ball Games. Sometimes only 13-0! After that, we the children from Lower Nakuru would hound Binya’s Chuta mates, remove the handkerchiefs tying their hair and rob them of the ice-cream and chevra that they ate as they spoke English during the match. We at Omingo bordered the Lake Nakuru National Park and boasted the Lesser Flamingos while Binya’s Moi Pri. Sch. bordered the Menengai Crater and feasted on President Toroitich Moi’s Orbit Chewing Gum whenever he called on them. Anyway, Courtyard it was and I ate Belgian Ghoulash as I listened to Binya going on and on and on about how we should write and that Nakuru had stories to tell. He smoked more, ate his choma and hit the keyboard faster. He seemed to think as fast as his typing. And I took my pencil and wrote more lines of the play, Then We Were Fools No More!
|Cool: Eric Wainaina and Just a Band|
It is gratifying to now witness Binyavanga’s realization of his memoirs, ONE DAY I WILL WRITE ABOUT THIS PLACE. I celebrate his courage and persistence over time and the fact that this boy from upper Nakuru who watched his English speaking team being shredded apart by our Omingo bigheads, now mobilizes the writing community in Kenya to collectively share his victory over the blankness of our literary spaces. He opens a new front with this memoir and in a sense becomes a maverick of new tradition of Kenyan prose and style.
|Moi Primary & Flamingo Primary|
And so as I travelled from Kisumu to Nairobi to visit with him on his big day, I mused at the tenacity of a writer, the love of the pen and the staying power that Binyavanga has exhibited over time. In truth, he is slowly becoming a monument of the contemporary Kenyan writing and kicking the door of conservative appreciation of literature in Kenya down. His push for the ‘urban method’ (for my lack of better nomenclature) opens the field of literary composition to a huge base of young Kenyans who would, otherwise, not have ventured to express themselves and their experiences.
|Binyavanga adoring his best so far!|
During his launch interview, Binya proclaimed that, ‘…Books didn’t interrupt life, rather, life interrupted books’. In a way, it is a relief and a welcome breakthrough, that Binya’s writings and the KWANI? Trust have interrupted the rigid understanding of literary appreciation and expectation of yore and have excited a new patronage by young Kenyan writers whose blogging and micro-blogging, spoken words, book clubbing, open-mics, poetry, music, dance, fusion and all manner of artistic expressions are now affording Kenyans, cheaply and at an amazingly unboring frequency, a participation in diverse life’s experiences, excitements, joys, loves, laughters, sex, beer, war, materialism and masturbations!
|Binya: “Accordions and beards were this scary I tell you!”|
|THAT handwriting. Eh my brother!|
Watching and listening to Binyavanga during the launch, I finally came to the conclusion that Binya the kid who dreaded accordions and beards, Binya the boy who had a woeful handwriting, Binya the tentative and young writer who had naively fashioned his writings to what he imagined were the styles and renditions that gave white people a kick had finally blossomed into a man – a writer who had mastered his acceptance to write and express himself as he willed and as he was talented to, and freed readers (all white, green, brown, black, yellow and pink) to construct their own meanings and interpretations. He had achieved the necessary arrogance and heroism that Kenya needed to spur it’s creatives into reaching out and grabbing the possibilities that all along had lay ahead of them. I couldn’t but marvel and think, ‘Behold The Binyavanga; Africa, Kenya is coming!’
|Finally liberated! Go forth and explore.|
|Contemporary Kenyan writers/readers.|
With ONE DAY I WILL WRITE ABOUT THIS PLACE, Binyavanga’s boldness of exploration has finally emancipated a wandering generation of Kenyan contemporary writers, parting for them the Red Sea of rigid and torturous school-literature and ushering them into the amazing Canaan of free, exciting and in-sync chronicling of the imaginations and experiences of now. In the end we parted ways at The Courtyard, satisfied with the food and the creativity, and moved out to the world to share our interpretations of the experiences that were nurtured in Nakuru. May the books break now…!
- One Day I Will Write About This Place, by Binyavanga Wainaina (theglobeandmail.com)
- Book Launch:One Day I Will Write About This Place (literarychronicles.wordpress.com)