Binyavanga Wainaina is one of the strongest voices among a new generation African writers.   Here he is (on American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith) offering some personal and critical views on the efforts, approach and  nature of Western aid, the push to end poverty, and the damaging consequences it is having on the Kontinent.


  1. Binyavanga is great. we had coffee once.
    i wish they’d transcribe online interviews though, so much easier to read than listen through…

  2. This is very interesting.

    This may be a weird transition but this kind of poorly targeted altruism makes me think of specific experiences I’ve had in the underground music scene. This reminds me of what I call the ‘for the scene’ syndrome, where people are doing things saying ‘oh, I’m not into this for the money, I’m doing it for the scene’ and based on this kind of ‘altruism’ do things which are not grounded in financial sustainable reality. IE put on shows or run businesses which are ‘keeping it real’ artistically but not making money. Almost inevitably this continues for a while, the money runs out, grinds to a halt and then crashes. Often with bad destructive results that pull down other parts of the scene that they are trying to help.

    What I gathered from this is that any thing that is going to be good for anyone has to first look after itself, be sustainable and work before it can help anyone else.

    Very cool thoughts from Binyavanga Wainaina anyway.

  3. Lamin, Matt- BIG UP for posting these! I’ve been on a biiiiig interview / documentary binge for the last couple of months, and had been looking for ones w/ Wainaina with no success. Nice!

  4. I did a few kiva loans myself. when you consider the stupidity of living in our expensive cities and how much we can waste in a single night, its so simple to loan $25 to somebody worthwhile. they have a payback rate of +95% which is better than corporate bonds :)

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