Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, One Day I will Write About this Place is a biting an enticing memoir into the life of the author as he grows up in Kenya. The title itself suggests that the book alerts readers to an important story, yet leaves that story nameless and the setting yet to be determined. It is possible for the reader to read the book from several different perspectives, yet the most important perspective is the story of a boy coming of age in post-colonial Kenya and maturing into his state as a professional author. As the author grows the politics ever-imposing forces Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya, of Daniel arap Moi, the second president of Kenya, and the mentally present but psychically distant Idi Amin forces Wainaina to face the oppressive and influential role of Kenyan politics in everyday situations. Through these difficulties, however, Wainaina will embrace the idea of Pan-Africanism
Binyavanga Wainaina was born in Naruku, Kenya in 1971. His mother’s life tormented by politics back in her him country of Uganda, from which she fled, to escape the collapsing economy and political turmoil spiraling out of control in Unganda. Because of these facts, Wainana is born into an astutely aware family in terms of politics. In the first chapter, politics for Wainaina are simply comparative and distant when he discusses the fall of Uganda under Field Marshal Amin Dada, otherwise known as Idi Amin. “Field Marshal Amin Dada, president of Uganda, ate his minister for supper. He kept his minister’s head in the fridge.”(7) Several page later in the first chapter, he writes, “Kenya is a peaceful nation,”(9) while comparing it to the turmoil in Uganda.
His mother’s Ugandan heritage would begin to cause problems for his family as time went on however. While at his mother’s hair salon, Wainaina describes the anti-Ugandan attitude towards him and his mother. The shop owner next door blatantly tips over her trashcan for simply being too close to the store. (18) She claims that the Ugandans are bringing their problems over to neighboring Kenya. The fight shows that while Kenya is not Uganda as Wainaina keeps stating, the fact is that Kenya has some of its own issues that are similar to that of the Tutsi and Hutu in Uganda. President Jomo Kenyatta, the president preceding Moi during this time of harassment, promoted ethnic loyalties. Thus, these policies caused marked racial differences that would become even stronger by the end of the book, as Kenya falls into more troubled times.
Kenyatta’s presence in the beginning of the both the book and Wainaina’s life almost larger than life, as Wainaina recounts Kenyatta’s death and subsequent stadium funeral as it was broadcast around the country on all television. The rushing and swirling descriptions that Wainaina uses to describe the multifaceted languages and songs sung by different tribe sat the funeral symbolically show the chaos that will occur after Kenyatta’s death. “They have nothing to...