How to Build Africa - In Memory of Binyavanga Wainaina
By Nancy Monnya
Inspired by Binyavanga Wainaina, the Kenyan writer who passed on recently
Remembering one of his most powerful pieces “How to Write About Africa” - A satire about Africa https://granta.com/how-to-write-about-africa/
How to Build Africa
Because you are so tired of the state of things on the continent, so tired of seeing starving miserable looking children in those pictures and videos whose origin no-one seems to know, you have to do something.
So first you start with those splendid cultural celebrations across the world. Yeah, start by showing everyone the beautiful African cultures they have stolen and appropriated. Akere* they don’t know them.
Yes, let’s also have a million conferences and term them ‘Africa something’ and spend a million dollars to pay for shuttles and private jets because normal cars and economy flights just won’t do.
Always remember the term ‘Africa something’. It is crucial and will get people to believe you know what you are doing. Add culture to it and you will attract all sorts of people. Those who would come because there’s bound to be drumming and the gyration of hips. You would also get those who would come to ogle those same gyrating hips. It is always interesting to watch Africans perform. It can’t all end with Ota Benga and Sarah Bartman , could it?
When you are thinking of growing your economies, you open a thousand businesses and make things that are accessible only to the handful rich Africans, or the debt-saddled middle class.
Everyone else can keep buying their China -made phones and German -made cars. It is important that everyone keeps buying their American - made none-food food. African economies will grow!
It is tiring to see the dirty images of the African kids with flies hovering on their mouths; images that we do not see even in the remotest of villages; images full of death, despair and disease, so you must carry your phone to Paris and Dubai and splatter social media with beautiful pictures of you there. It is always good to see those places whose names you must practice saying first before you say them aloud.
You know when we want to get our own media, because it is important to have voices of our own and platforms to voice them? You should always remember to name it Africa rising or some such term and get the European and foreign owners use you as their front. You will get more consumers for your product and countries like South Africa will say you qualify for BEE, BBBEE, continue adding more B’s. It does wonders to the nature of the economic empowerment initiative.
You might get tired too of listening to more talks about a ‘rising Africa’. If that happens, get on the same social media and lament about the talks for 23 and half hours in a day.
If you are a politician, remember to have others snap pictures of you inaugurating that water tank or that foot-bridge. Everyone needs them. Elections are around the corner. Don’t leave out that inauguration of the solar-powered street light!
It is good to be called Dr and have PhD in your name. So remember to accumulate as many degrees as possible and remain the student forever. You being in the classroom at 40 adds to the economy of your country, so stay put.
You can also go to another country and hop from one scholarship to another and stay there until that country accepts you by force as their retiring ‘expat’.
It is also very important to buy and wear the Pakistani made African prints to show you are an African. Buying them grows Africa’s economy. Wearing them keeps the farms growing, the textile industry thriving and innovations growing.
Building Africa is not that hard. Just talk about it and walls will start going up. Sing about it and the roads will fill up their holes. Drum about it, and soon I will be able to fly to Senegal without having to fly first to Paris. Dance about it too and I should be able to buy goods from Kenya and sell them in Malawi within days.
Don’t forget to snapchat it, South Africa should be able to hire Ghanaian architects and engineers who are not European.
Akere* - because