I have pestered and cajoled several people to watch this six part docu not only because I am a huge fan of Binyavanga’s work, but also because I believe that this is a message that a lot of people who are stuck in the maze of life need to hear and understand.
Binyavanga is basically ranting about the collective lack of imagination that plagues our society, and says that we are “scared of imagining”.. this of course aided by our education system which doesn’t encourage creativity and critical thinking, which we desperately need. The backdrop of this release was timely. Wainaina had just come out as a gay man in an essay titled “I am a Homosexual, mum” first published in the Chimurenga Chronicles. He makes fun of those who think homosexuality is “UnAfrican” and laments about how quick we are to judge things that are unfamiliar to us, simply because we do not understand them.
His jibes on the Pentecostal movement that gained traction in the 90’s has received a backlash and in classic Binyavanga rhetoric, he spares no one. Blaming the movement for making people “lose their heads” in the early nineties to his jibes at “demonology”, he has been criticised by some for dragging religion into his rants but one cannot ignore the effects that religion has had in our society (especially the fanatical type). I don’t think Binyavanga went in on puritans just for the sake of it, I think he brought it up because of the religious angle that the discussions (more of noisemaking) on homosexuality in Africa has taken. Besides, this is a subject that would attract all sorts of backlash in a society such as ours, so it’s nothing surprising.
Bottomline, he is basically urging us to be creators, non-conformers. This is a conversation starter, a chance for us to really think and ask ourselves hard questions in order to propel ourselves forward. I was personally challenged by it, and I hope more people will be too.