News Brief

Binyavanga Wainaina Violently Assaulted by His German Taxi Driver

Kenyan journalist and author, Binyavanga Wainaina writes on Facebook about suffering a violent assault at the hands of his German taxi driver.

In a Facebook post last night, the revered Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, reveals that he was violently attacked by his cab driver in Berlin while completing a prestigious Daad fellowship. You can and should read his somber essay here, at the source.


By his own account he is now in Zurich and has not suffered any major physical injuries. Wainaina is one of our favorite writers at Okayafrica and his work is a living inspiration for everything we do, so this is tremendously shocking news.

The author is still recovering from a stroke he suffered last year and writes that it was while off his stroke medication that he called the taxi and was struggling to communicate the address of the clinic where he was headed before the driver dragged him out of the car and beat him in front of his neighbors.

While he doesn't explicitly say so, the essay is very clear about the racial and xenophobic implications of the assault and the public reaction to his beating. Here's what he wrote:

Berlin chronicles. Am in Berlin as one of the writers on a Daad Fellowship.. This is one of the most prestigious fellowships in the world. Berlin is a city of bikes. I live in Charlottenburg. You don't see black people in Charlottenburg. Today I was out shopping on my bike. I came out of Peek and Somethingburg all excited because I am off to dar es salaam tonight to see my in -love. Anyway am busy rushing about. My gorgeous apartment is a mess. Anyway, I am walking as carelessly as usual heading to unlock my bike when i see her - a black woman looking at me. She says, " I saw you the other day, cycing carelessly, on Saturday we buried 4 Ghanians. They kill you just like that you are nothing to them. Me-you cant see me on bicycle - they are supposed to remain 4 metres from you, but they don't. They kill you. I don't need a degree to say she meant Germans. But I am careless,and Berlin is a city designed for careless people. Except her - and I suspect they are many others like her. Anyway, I left her carelessly and rushed home, put my new clothes on top of my suitcase - and called a cab. I had finished my prescription medication the day before so I had called the cab company I like because they dont mind that i dont speak German and - since my stroke I have a few speech defects - I mangle 22..stuttgarter platz ..and they don't mind. The cab was waiting. I got in, sat down carelessly and started to look for the address for where was going on my phone. And the website of the clinic i was going to was one of those that maybe dont fit a phone so well. Any way it took a long to me to get the address. Clearly the taxi driver was not a patient guy. He asked me several times to hurry it, but si the meter is running, and i am paying him? So he gets out of the car and comes across to my side, and opens the door. I am clueless what is going on because he is beating me, my bag is on the ground , we scuffle but he is stronger, I am crying now. Loud. In front of my neighbors , it is fiveissh the lady at the shop who makes it a point never to say hello to me is relishing everything, nobody comes to my aid. I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this kind of thing is supposed to happen to somebody like me. Am in Zurich writing this, on my way to see my inlove
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