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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nyumbani kwangu in blogs and blogging

I was reminded today of one of the "100 things about me" which I prepared for a meme but never posted. Number 2 said:
I am uneasy when people ask me what it was like to grow up in "Africa". I don't know one place called Africa.

I do know that when someone asks me the question about my life in Africa they aren't expecting to hear how unfair it was that I always took the blame for my sister or how it was so boring on Sundays when my parents made us all go for "a drive".

And I can see in retrospect that squabbling in the car was less interesting than the elephants we would have seen if we were paying attention.

As I mature I can now see the funny side of dad's marital prickley feelings as he scooped up elephant poo into the boot with the engine still running because mum wanted to put it (the poo) on her garden/ shamba. And I'm conscious that we were focused on the wrong drama as dad shouted at mum when the buffalo charged and he had to quickly jump into the car and accelerate off.

So I knew what Binyavanga Wainaina was talking about in his piece on "How to write about 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.

(Don't miss the whole piece here.)

And when people ask me if I ever think of going back to "Africa" I'm embarrassed to say that I can't imagine living the life of my sister on the South Coast who has problems accessing the Internet - but that following the Kenyan blog scene and I start feeling like I could belong - even if those guys are mostly from Nairobi or the United States...

Recently I followed a hot debate from Thinker's Room about Kenyan Diaspora returning - or not which generated 155 comments and lots of follow-up posts. Other Kenya bloggers that make me feel "at home", even nostalgic, are:

Kenyan pundit for news, politics and links,
White African for cool insights and technology tips,
Bullets and honey for intelligent rants,
Bankelele for news,
Afrikan Eye (new) checking out Afrika's contribution to civilisation,
Diary of a mad Kenyan Woman for mad woman insights,
Feminist Africa Sister for her feeling stuff,
and Gukira for his queer voyeurism in the USA.

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Blogger HASH said...

Beverly, we would be overjoyed to have you as part of our community. I can tell you that the Kenyan Webring is really a good group of very intellegent people. Some of the best writing I find in the blogosphere, especially on Africa, is found right here.


2/11/2006 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Thanks for the welcoming words Hash!

2/11/2006 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Williams said...

An interesting film I saw yesterday, "Live and Become" about a young Ethiopian going to live in Israel as one of the Falasha jews,6903,1675409,00.html
has some interesting views on origin and culture.

2/27/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Thanks Bill. Definitely want to see that. Also 'cos it relates to the idea of "choosing your culture".

2/27/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mshairi said...

Please feel free to join the Kenyan Blogs Webring. Membership is open to Kenyans, residents of Kenya and friends of Kenya aged 14 years and older who maintain a weblog, photolog, online journal or online diary.

As Hash said: the Kenyan webring is really good group;)

3/02/2006 03:29:00 PM  

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