One Day I Will Write About This Place
This was one of the most brilliantly; heart-achingly, honest books of poetry I’ve ever read. Granted, it was not listed as a book of poetry but as a memoir but every single word, line and phrase was poetically loved and placed. I found myself aching and loving and rejoicing and breaking with the stories he told. His life, though an ordinary tale of boy finds himself through words, was told with such honesty and humor and the no-holds-barred and no attempts to make this prettier than it was the style that is Binyavanga. He told his truth as much as he knew how to.
There were glaring holes in the book that made me love it a little less and the last quarter was a lot to be desired as it left his personal story and began telling one of his politics and social strife in his view of our Kenya. However, in 2014, after the heinous and inhumane anti-gay laws were being launched all across Africa, Binj (As his close friends lovingly refer to him as) gathered his bravery and truth and announced in a searing “lost chapter” of his book that he was homosexual. Suddenly, the holes and the diversions in his book made sense. What I saw was a hiding was really a protection and the freedom he allowed himself with this ‘lost chapter’ allowed me to appreciate the vulnerability of One Day I Will Write About This Place even more.
The book was haunting and so excruciatingly beautifully written that I found myself pausing often to share lines and whole passages with friends and strangers alike. I’d be in the library at school and read sentences like ad I would want to howl and shout and share it with anyone who was close by.
When you read the book, and you should, read of his description of the first time he saw Michael Jackson dance and then tell me that Binyavanga Wainaina is not the an alien who sees the world through untested yet all knowing eyes. And if you ever have the pleasure of being in a room with him and all his flailing limbs and highway stretched stories that rope around into a brilliance you never expected, then you will know that he is in fact, an alien who sees the world through untested yet all knowing eyes.
I met him once, at the 2013 Hay Festival. Scratch that. I didn’t meet him, I experienced him. Him, all green hair and 100-watt smile, he’s a hard man not to notice. The kind that has a loud presence. Does that make sense? What I’m trying to say is this, please read this book. The plot is slow in the uptake, but trust me, it’s a worthy wait.