Who has the Right to write about Africa? (Part II) One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina | The Granta Book of African Anthology, Edited by Helon Habila | The Makings of You by Nii Ayikwei Parkes
In the second of my book review series, Who has The Right To Write About Africa, I am reviewing books by Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya), Helon Habila (Nigeria) and Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana). Enjoy!
Binyavanga Wainaina takes you home to Kenyan in his memoir, as he relives his childhood which is as animated as it is revealing of the writer’s mischievous nature. One day I Will Write About This Place gives Wainaina the vehicle to write and bring to the fore the Kenya he knows, as well as the African countries he has had the opportunity to experience through his travels. Without the stereotypical clichés, Wainaina takes readers into a complex and fascinating world. One, you would otherwise have no knowledge of, as some who I not Kenyan. Through vivid descriptions, he invites us to take a birds-eye view of the nation’s beautiful landscape, educates you about Kenya through history, enlightens you about the political positioning of the nation, and without flinching, unashamedly presents the high levels of tribalism that existed in his nation, from the corridors of power to family and the ordinary man on the street, revealing the undercurrent of troubles that would later blow up in the disputed 2007 elections. A candid, honest, brilliant and humorous offering.
Helon Habila successfully pulls an eclectic collection of work across generations of African writers. This accomplished collection explores the diverse narrativesAfricaand what its writers have to offer the world, family, love and relationship, diaspora, poverty and inequality. From the award-winning Chimanmada Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian) to Olufemi Terry (Sierra Leone) to Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa), the book’s narratives are original, contemporaneous and reveal the literary prowess of the post-colonial generation. This is a groundbreaking anthology that exemplifies the wealth of talented writers the continent has to offer the world.
Nii Ayikei Parkes is a writer, editor, performance poet and one of the most prolific writers on the London African-diaspora circuit. His debut novel was greeted with critical acclaim and described as a story that accomplishes everything it set out to do. In his debut poetry collection, Parkes takes us on a journey that encompasses home and his family history which spreads far to the Caribbean, London and then back to Ghana. His, is a collection of stories told in lyrical prose that is imaginative and poignant. If there is one piece in which Parkes awake’ the reader’s senses, it is the poem, Pebbles 1980, which charts the course of nationhood, change and the celebration of a new life.
Note: This review was first published in Wings Magazine, Issue 10, March-May 2012.