In this literary essay, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina , drawing on an interview with Senegalese musician and politician Youssou N’Dour, tells of colonialism and learning to swim, of politics and poetry, of music and essentialist understandings of culture and identity:

“37. The sectors of art and entertainment are not priorities for the African political class… there is a certain freedom, a freedom to create. That’s what happens in music… or Nollywood movies. These are people who try to make things happen by their own means. But things work. These things work precisely because they are not the priority of the political elite and the government. Since they don’t care much for art and culture and entertainment, people in those fields have space to initiate different things, their own initiatives. That’s partly why we’re most successful in those areas.’

38. and in your hung-over scrambled brain, you know of thick soups of organic matter that sprouted in a thousand creation stories of people: swamps, eggs, milky-ways, from primemother. Close your eyes when you dive your head in. See Stars. Look at them every Dakar night, tiny splashes of vomited milk all over the black night roof of all the Sahel.

39. Youssou N’Dour is talking.”

Binyavanga Wainaina 2014: It’s only a matter of acceleration now. Chimurenga Chronic. http://chimurengachronic., 21 Dec. 2017.


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