Binyavanga Wainaina: Rewriting Africa

Among other things, Binyavanga Wainaina is author of ‘How to write about Africa‘, a biting satire on Western writings on Africa. (See video below the fold.)

It is time to change our image of Africa. Critics say that for too long now, aid organisations, foreign diplomats, politicians and journalists have been stuck looking at this vast continent as a convenient photo-opportunity to illustrate victimhood and desperation. And few men are more forceful in advocating a change in how we perceive Africa than Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina. Talk to Al Jazeera sat down with one of the continent’s most influential young authors to explore why the world is still not understanding Africa, and how to break the lens of media distortion.

Upheaval in Souls, Bodies, Imaginations

Christopher Lydon of the wonderful Radio Open Source interview joins the great Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury for a stimulating discussion on art, politics and literature.

CAIRO — Elias Khoury is the sort of novelist we rely on to tell us what is going on. Himself of Lebanese and Christian antecedents, he wrote Gate of the Sun (1998), a stylized and much-admired fictional account of the Palestinian naqbah or “catastrophe” from 1948 to the infamous Sabra and Shatillah massacres in Lebanon in 1982. Writing, he remarks, is his means of discovering his ignorance and overcoming it.

Clive Bell Is a Fathead

by George Bernard Shaw, The New Republic, 21 February 1922

[In his article, The Creed of an Aesthete (in our issue of January 25th), Mr. Clive Bell said: “Mr. Bernard Shaw … is not an artist, much less an aesthete … he is a didactic.” He referred to Mr. Shaw’s rejection of the Darwinian theory because, by depriving Beauty, Intelligence, Honor of their divine origin and purpose, this theory deprives them of their value. To Mr. Bell’s mind, Mr. Shaw feels that “if Life be a mere purposeless accident, the finest things in it must appear to everyone worthless.” The sooner Mr. Shaw knows that this is not so, the better, says Mr. Bell, and proceeds to explain his own creed: “always life will be worth living by those who find in it things which make them feel to the limit of their capacity.” “The advantage of being an aesthete,” he declares, “is that one is able to appreciate the significance of all that comes to one through the senses: one feels things as ends instead of worrying about them as means. … Whatever is precious and beautiful in life is precious and beautiful irrespective of beginning and end.”]

As will be seen in the above article, my friend Clive Bell is a fathead and a voluptuary. This a very comfortable sort of person to be, and very friendly and easy and pleasant to talk to. Bell is a brainy man out of training. So much the better for his friends; for men in training are irritable, dangerous, and apt to hit harder than they know. No fear of that from Clive. The layer of fat on his brain makes him incapable of following up his own meaning; but it makes him good company.

Continue reading “Clive Bell Is a Fathead”

Gore Vidal’s Gore Vidal – BBC Omnibus 1995

Gore Vidal’s Gore Vidal is a BBC Omnibus documentary first screened in 1995. The two part film biography covers Vidal’s life by visiting scenes from his past.

Episode One

Continue reading “Gore Vidal’s Gore Vidal – BBC Omnibus 1995”