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Sunday, January 29, 2006

'How to write about Africa' by Binyavanga Wainaina

Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina's sarcastically written excellent essay How To Write About Africa makes for good read in the current Granta magazine which is a special on Africa.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.


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