dimanche 12 août 2012

Africa: Ah, these fantasies of White! *

For the title, always use the words "Africa", "Dark Continent" and "safari". Your caption can include the words "Zanzibar", "Masai", "Zulu", "Zambezi", "Congo", "Nile", "large", "sky", "shadow", "drum" "sun" or "another time". Terms such as "guerrillas", "timeless" or "primitive" and "tribal" are also very useful. Recall that, in the lexicon, the term "people" refers to Africans who are not black, while "the people" means black Africans.

         Never choose the photo of an African "westernized" for the cover of your book, unless this is a Nobel laureate. An AK-47, a torso with prominent ribs, naked breasts: this is the winning formula. If you absolutely want to include an African on the cover, ensure he is in costume Masai, Zulu or Dogon. In your text, talk about Africa as if it was a single country. A country hot and dusty with rolling grasslands, impressive herds of animals and tall and thin people who are starving. Or a country crushed by scorching heat and populated by people who eat very small primates.

         Do not bother too detailed descriptions. Africa is huge, with 54 countries and 900 million people too busy to be hungry, to die, to make war and to emigrate to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, hills, savannas, and many other things, but your reader will strut, so get in to descriptions romantic and evocative enough waves.

         Do not neglect to note that Africans have music and rhythm in the skin, and eat things no other human being would feed. Move over rice, beef and wheat; the monkey brains is a delicacy African choice, and the goat, snake, worms and other maggots, and game of all kinds. And be sure to show that you are yourself around the table to eat these dishes without turning of the eye, without missing a chance to tell how you learned to appreciate them - because you love Africa.

         Some taboos to avoid at all costs: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless there is a death in your story), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school children which are not affected by yaws or Ebola fever or by girls who have not undergone genital mutilation.
         Throughout your story, adopt a tone heard, which will link of complicity with the reader, that exudes intonations of sadness, on "I expected so much that ..."
         Display your impeccable immediately open mind and declare at the first paragraphs to how much you love Africa, tell how you fell in love with this land that is now part of yourself. Africa is the only continent that we can love, so enjoy. If you are a man, throw yourself headlong into the sweltering heat of its virgin forests. If you are a woman, compare Africa to a man in the distant Saharan disappearing into the sunset.

         Africa is a continent that can only complain, worship or dominate. Whatever the angle at which you choose, you should definitely give the impression that without your intervention and your indispensable book, Africa is doomed to disaster.

         For your African characters, draw in the gallery of naked warriors, loyal servants of, diviners and seers, travel guides polygamous incompetent and prostitutes with whom you have slept. The faithful servant always behaves like a boy of seven years and must be ruled with an iron hand, he is afraid of snakes. He is good with children and you always results in his convoluted family histories. The wise old man necessarily comes from a noble tribe. He has rheumy eyes and vibrates to the rhythm of the Earth.
         The modern African is himself large and thief. He works at the visa, and refuses to grant work permits to qualified Westerners who yet so love Africa. This is an enemy of development. And he took advantage of systematically his government post to put spokes in the wheels to the Gentiles expatriates, with their practicality, just waiting to establish NGOs or protected natural areas.
         Or he is an intellectual educated at Oxford became a politician murderer strapped in elegant English suits. Cannibal or a champagne lover, whose mother is a healer who draws rich makes the tricks of the country. Among your characters, do not forget the starving African, who wanders the refugee camp half naked and the benefits expected from the West. Her children have flies on eyelids and swollen belly, and she has breasts flattened and dried. She must have seemed to have touched the depths of despair. She can have no past, no history. This kind of digressions spoils the drama of the moment. Some groans are always nice effect. In the dialogues, she must engage primarily nothing of herself, but only about her (unspeakable) suffering.
         Do not forget to cram in the table a warm and caring matron, who has a booming laugh and cares about your welfare. Call her simply Mama. Her children are all delinquent. All these characters are swarming around your main hero for the showcase. Your hero can they provide expertise, wash them, feed them. She picks her up a sling load of kids and he saw death up close. This hero,  will be you (in the case of a witness) or a star or an aristocrat of breathtaking beauty and a bit tragic, which has since been converted into animal rights.

         You will also consider some portraits of evil Westerners take model on Afrikaners or employees of the World Bank. When you approach the theme of exploitation by foreigners, speak about Chinese and Indian merchants. Remember that he is the West which is responsible for the situation in which Africa finds itself. But do not go into much detail.

The greatest taboo: show dead or suffering white.

         Studded your text with images brushed in broad strokes. Do not make your characters as people who love to laugh, do everything they can to send their children to school or merely seek to make ends meet in ordinary conditions. Use them instead to shed light on Europe or America from an African perspective. The characters should be colorful, exotic, but empty inside, and their history should lead to no dialogue, no conflict and no resolution, no frills or depth that may confuse the cause.

         Describe in detail the naked breasts or genitals mutilated, or oversized genitals. Or genitals of any kind. And corpses. Or better, naked corpses. And more specifically naked decaying corpses. Keep in mind that a text in which people look filthy and miserable will be treated as "deepest Africa", and that's exactly the words you need on your banner coverage. That this does not put you above uncomfortable because, after all, you all to help these people to obtain aid from the West. The biggest taboo when writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or  whites who suffer.

         The animals, however, should be treated as complex characters. They talk and they all have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see those lions who know so well pass on their knowledge to their children! Elephants are loving. The females are feminists copies, and proud of male patriarchs. Like gorillas. Never speak ill of an elephant or a gorilla. Sometimes elephants attack the property of the people, destroy their crops and kill men. In any case, always take the side of the elephant. The beasts have focused distinguished youth of good family. Hyenas are however an easy target.
         After the militants of the jet set and aid workers, ecologists are people that are most important. Do not go picking a quarrel with them. You must be invited in their nature reserve or "protected area". They are your only means to achieve your interviewer activist of the jet set. A photo of environmentalist-like hero in book cover is often wonders to boost sales.
         Any White with khaki Saharan Africa in which once had an antelope or a farm home is an ecologist whose primary objective is to preserve the rich heritage of Africa. When interviewing you, especially not ask him any question about the amount of subsidies he touches; seek not to know how he relates his game. And never ask how much he pays his employees.

         You will also provide a club called The Tropicana, where mercenaries are found, the evil new rich Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats. Always end your book with a quote from Mandela saying something about rainbows in the sky or rebirth. Because you love Africa.
*Binyavanga Wainaina’s article.
Born in 1971 in Nakuru, Kenya, Binyavanga Wainaina, a writer and journalist, has won the 2002 Caine prize for African literature with his novel, Discovering Home. He became famous in 2003 based in Nairobi one of the first African literary magazine, Kwani (Kwani.org).

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