Celebrated Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina was allegedly roughed up by a taxi-driver over what he termed as the worst racism attack ever.
The writer, who was in Berlin for a Daad Writers Fellowship, says the taxi driver attacked him for apparently being ‘too slow’ in giving him the direction of a clinic he was visiting and more so because he is black.
He goes ahead to narrate that his neighbour, a black woman, had warned him against cycling and being ‘careless’ in the German city and that she had told him to be careful as the Germans allegedly attack black people for no apparent reason.
Below is his narration:
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 I’m 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 Ghanians. 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 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 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 five-ish 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 in-love.