“I feel black, dirty,” says Kenyan author after being attacked by a taxi driver in Berlin

Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina in Nairobi in 2014.
Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina in Nairobi in 2014.
Image: AP Photo/AP Photo/Ben Curtis
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Kenyan author and outspoken gay rights advocate Binyavanga Wainaina took to Facebook today (June 1) to detail an attack he says he suffered at the hands of a taxi driver in Berlin. In his characteristic stream-of-consciousness style, the author of One Day I will Write About This Place and the famous essay “How to Write About Africa” says he came to blows with a cabbie before a flight to Tanzania to see his “inlove.”

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 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 [sic] the meter is running, and I am paying him?

Wainaina recently suffered a stroke, and chose this cab company because they wouldn’t mind his not speaking German. As the author continues to search for the address, the driver grows increasingly impatient.

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.

Wainaina’s experience is unfortunately not unique. While Berlin is home to a growing African community, attitudes toward immigrants and refugees of African descent are still problematic. (Germany has been voted one of the worst countries for blacks to visit). Compounding the issue, earlier this year a group of men that appeared to be Middle Eastern or North African robbed and sexually assaulted women in Cologne.

According to Wainana’s account, other Africans have been targeted. “I am walking as carelessly as usual heading to unlock my bike when I see her—a black woman looking at me,” Wainana wrote of an encounter shortly before the fracas with the taxi driver. “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.'”