This is the second and final part of my Binyavanga: Disturbing the Peace opinion. You can read the part one here. Again, this is just my opinion on Binyavanga’s coming out and the preceding events. In this last post, I want to comment on the documentary ‘We Must Free Our Imaginations’ which you should all have seen. It does not matter even if you are not queer. Watching it would not make you one!
Attack on the Pentecostal church
Binyavanga went on an offensive launching a scathing attack on the Pentecostal church. Or is it movement? Anyway, you get the point. He might have issues with that church and he has explained in the numerous interviews he has done on television but I generally think that the attack was uncalled for or done in an uncouth manner. I am not defending the church here, please take note of that! I am the least religious person you will ever meet and I have no sympathy at all for the church. Let’s admit it, the church in Africa and in Kenya has failed in it role in ‘leading the flock’. The church has been bedfellows with politics, governments and dirty business dealings all over forgetting it’s ‘people’. I feel sad for the flock who is constantly been misled by the clergy. But hey, I hear somewhere in the bible Jesus told the people to follow the teachings of the Pharisees but not their actions.
Anyway, this was not about the church but about how Binyavanga went head on with the church. I feel a serious dialogue over the issues of LGBTI rights need to happen. A serious dialogue in real space not on social media where people hide and say a lot of bull crap. Unfortunately I do not see that happening with the current religious regime. It is sad they failed to show up following invitations by Jeff Koinange on his talk show (Jeff Koinange Live) where he was hosting Binyavanga. I do not know if they have been involved in dialougue elsewhere. I have only seen the Anglican Bishop’s statement, which I will not go into; it is not worth my time. This sends a very strong message that the church is not willing to engage. I do not feel sad about it because it will be very late when the church decides to wake up and they will be the biggest losers.
Freeing our imaginations
In the documentary, Binyavanga raises a very serious point our limited ability to be imaginative or creative or innovative. It is sad that some of the commentary on this matter is misguided with people and mostly thinking that only queer or gay people are the only creatives! I get disgusted when I read some of the comments on social media, blogs and online newspapers and just wonder what a bunch of misguided and prejudiced Kenyans we are! I digress. Binyavanga failed to appreciate the fact the Kenyans are some of the creative, imaginative and innovative people in Africa. He probably has not met some of them. You need to look at the technology scene and the companies setting shop on Nairobi to have a clearer picture of how innovative we are. You need to see the Kenyan actors, actresses and artists gracing the world stage to see a clearer picture of how creative we are. The list is endless.
What Binyavanga failed to highlight in his tirade is the shortcomings of the system. Our education system is just a rot that needs a complete overhaul. The unemployment and high insecurity in Kenya right now is as a result of this system that inculcates in us a dooming culture of seeking white collar jobs. A little is being done to spur innovation and entrepreneurship from an early age in our schools. Forget the laptops by this Uhuru government! That is a waste of money that should have been directed to other deserving areas. If the aim indeed was to spur innovation, then class one pupils (who should be learning basic literacy skills) are the last people who should have been considered. Maybe high school students would have been a better constituency for this project.
Binyavanga should have highlighted the shortcomings of the political system. Our political system does not give much room for creativity and freedom of expression and you need no look far to see evidence of this. We Kenyans are very hypocritically intolerant of each others opinions. Let me explain this. We rant and vent about topical issues on social media hiding under pseudo-names (you might wonder why I blog anonymously then) and cannot express this anger or opinions in public where we can question each other. This is very unfortunate for a country that prides itself as being a model democracy in Africa!
Political Coming Out?
Many have suggested that Binyavanga’s coming out was politically motivated, a fact that he has refuted. We cannot avoid the political undertones of his coming out in a continent where anti-homosexuality laws are being passed and gay people facing persecution in some countries. I think we should embrace Binyavanga’s coming out and take this opportunity to address this issue once for all. The cowardly politics of Nigeria and other countries where anti-homosexuality is being used as a diversionary tool to blind the masses from the real issues has no place in Kenya!
All said and done, I must congratulate Binyavanga Wainaina for taking that bold step. I wish him all the best in his endevours. I also would like to encourage other people to live their lives are comfortably as possible. I am not advocating for a mass coming out party but if that makes you happy no one stops you then!
Comments but not hate are welcome!