Binyavanga Wainaina | Granta, 2005 | Article
Wainana refuses to be pigeon-holed and so his stories are varied and dramatic and sometimes small, but they are always important. Start with this essay, which the New Yorker described as "laugh-out-loud funny satire." Published in 2005, it went viral because of the way it managed to document every known stereotype of Africans. Wainana makes you laugh yes, but he also forces you to think about the dangers of a single story.
Jamaica Kincaid | Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000 | Book
Jamaica Kincaid is simply awesome. A Small Place is a tiny piece of prose – just eighty pages but one of my favorites. It is a manifesto – an insistent, lyrical, gorgeous scream written for those of us who come from very small places; for those of us who are seldom given opportunities to go anywhere, but who do anyway.
The Editorial Board | Explore
Founded by Sean Jacobs, a maverick college professor at the New School in New York, originally from South Africa, this site got its name from "How to Write about Africa" (see above). Africascountry is fun and sharp and not always comfortable. It features online commentary, original writing, media criticism, videos, audio, and photography.
Zina Saro Wiwa | Eaten by the Heart, 2012 | Watch
Zina Saro Wiwa is a visual artist whose work is playful and whose ambitions are great. At the heart of this short film is the question, "How do Africans kiss?" Saro Wiwa embodies story-telling as surprise and humor and as falling a little bit in love with simple questions. This is an eleven-minute wonder, commissioned by the Menil Collection.
Elizabeth Alexander, 2009 | Watch
Elizabeth Alexander is a poet and writer of searing beauty. She wrote and recited "Praise Song for the Day" on the occasion of the inauguration of Barrack Obama. This poem – like most of her work – is about triumph in the face of almost impossible vulnerability. Indeed, at the heart of Alexander’s stories is the sense that both triumph and vulnerability are crucial elements of story-telling for justice.