2 June 2016
Binyavanga Wainaina, an award winning Kenyan writer, has reported how he fell victim of racism in Berlin as he was assaulted by a taxi driver on Wednesday.
Binyavanga who is currently recovering from stroke was on his way to a clinic for prescription refill when he was assaulted by the cab driver taking him to the clinic.
He recounted the dreadful experience on Facebook, describing it thus: “I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this type of thing is supposed to happen to someone like me.”
This was how it happened: While in the taxi, Binyavanga was having trouble pulling up the address of the clinic from his phone. His difficulties with the German language and speech defect he had developed because of the stroke complicated this even more.
In the process, the taxi driver lost patience and began beating up the author. As the beating was ongoing, Binyavanga’s neighbours watched, doing absolutely nothing to intervene.
Below is his account of the event as culled from Facebook:
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, cycling carelessly, on Saturday we buried 4 Ghanaians. They kill you just like that you are nothing to them. Me-you can’t 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 don’t mind that i don’t 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 I was going on my phone. And the website of the clinic I was going to was one of those that maybe don’t fit a phone so well. Any way it took me a long time to get the address. Clearly the taxi driver was not a patient guy. He asked me several times to hurry it, but 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 neighbours, 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.
According to Bayern Munich defender, Jerome Boateng, racism in Germany remains a big issue. He described the state of racism in Germany as “far from gone”, after politician and deputy leader of Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) Alexander Gauland said he would “not want to have Boateng as a neighbor”, a statement which has drawn widespread condemnation in Germany and tagged racist.
In a quora post on the state or racism in Germany, several Asians and generally non-Germans complained that racism still existed in Germany.
Gabriel Chan who studied and worked in Germany said: “The only time when I experienced racism in Germany was on a bus ride through a Munich residential area. This old guy told me that it was Hitler’s birthday (April 20th) and told me to stop stealing German jobs and get the fuck out of his country.”
Though there were other comments that asserted that racism in Germany was not so bad (for example, a commenter wrote: “Racism in Germany clearly exists, but is not a majority trait and seldom shown openly. Asians are probably even less affected as they’re not part of some stereotypes of violent, criminal or otherwise dangerous outsiders”.
Official statistics show that most racist crimes in Germany last year occurred in the country’s eastern-most states and Berlin. 47 per cent of all racist violence was reported to have occurred in Berlin, Germany’s capital city.
Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina, born 18 January 1971 is a Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
In April 2014, Time magazine included Wainaina in its annual TIME 100 as one of the “Most Influential People in the World.”
Binyavanga Wainaina was born in Nakuru in Rift Valley province. He attended Moi Primary School in Nakuru, Mangu High School in Thika, and Lenana School in Nairobi.
He later studied commerce at the University of Transkei in South Africa. He completed an MPhil in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2010.
Binyavanga is really loved amongst literature enthusiasts. Last year, literature lovers across Africa, set up different means to raise funds for his operation in India.
Now, his fans are clamoring for justice across social media, against this evil done to him.