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Kenyan Author Binyavanga Wainaina Alleges Racist Assault in Germany

Wainaina said no bystanders came to his aid during the assault.

Binyavanga Wainaina. Credit: Twitter.

Binyavanga Wainaina. Credit: Twitter.

Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina has said he was assaulted by a taxi driver in Berlin on June 1. Wainaina, who was in the city as part of the prestigious DAAD Artists-in-Berlin program described the assault in a post on his Facebook page.

In his post, Wainaina said that he called a taxi to go to a clinic to buy his prescription medication. While inside the taxi, Wainaina said he took some time to look up the address of the clinic on his phone. The taxi driver asked him to hurry up several times before assaulting him in full public view.

A short time before the assault took place, a black woman told Wainaina not to cycle in the city, adding that four Ghanians had been killed the previous Saturday. “They kill you just like that you are nothing to them,” she reportedly told the author.

Wainaina said that although several bystanders witnessed the assault, none came to his aid. Among the bystanders were people the author knew, including a few of his neighbours and a woman shopkeeper who “makes it a point never to say hello” to him.

Describing his feelings in the immediate aftermath of the assault, Wainaina wrote: “I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this kind of thing is supposed to happen to somebody like me.”

Below is the full text of Wainaina’s post:

The DAAD program issued the following statement on June 2 condemning the attack:

“The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program has noted with deep consternation, that its current guest, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, has been beaten by a taxi driver in Berlin. We strongly condemn this assault and feel ashamed that such a violent act could occur in our country. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program stands for a culture of welcoming, for tolerance, international artistic dialogue and the absence of difference. We are all strangers encountering different cultures and bringing these together. This is the only way that a true dialogue can take place. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program is in close contact with Binyavanga Wainaina and stands in this situation firmly by his side.”

Wainaina is the author of the memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place and the winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. He is the writer of the satirical essay How To Write About Africa.

The author is currently visiting Dar es Salaam. It is unclear whether the Berlin police are investigating the assault.