Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, who is still in the process of recovery from a stroke he suffered last year, fell victim to an assault by a taxi driver yesterday.

Binyavanga who currently lives in Berlin as a Daad fellow—one of the most prestigious fellowships in the world—boarded a taxi on his way to the clinic for a prescription refill when the assault occurred.

He recounts his horrific experience on Facebook. You can scroll down to read the full account. But here is what we gleaned from his narration of the moments that led up to the eventual attack. While seated in the taxi, Binyavanga was having trouble pulling up the address of the clinic from his phone, add to this his difficulties with the German language, which was compounded by a speech defect he had developed because of the stroke. The taxi driver lost patience and began beating up the author while his neighbors looked on, willfully refusing to intervene. Binyavanga was doubly vulnerable as a result of his health and the relative strength of his attacker.

He concludes the harrowing account with the statement: “I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this type of thing is supposed to happen to someone like me.”

His post has provoked various responses that range from anger to sadness and fear for his life.

The author of One Day I Will Write About This Place and one of Time 2014 “100 Most Influential People in the World” is well loved and admired in the literary community and all over the world. The sheer injustice of this attack is heartbreaking, and as fans and supporters of Binyavanga, we continue to wish him a swift recovery and hope that justice is served.

We will update you with new information as the story unfolds.

Read Binyavanga’s account of the story below.


Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 2.11.42 AMBerlin 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 am 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, cycing carelessly, on Saturday we buried 4 Ghanians. They kill you just like that you are nothing to them. Me-you cant 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 dont mind that i dont 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 dont 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 fiveissh 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 inlove. 


Post image by Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr.

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About Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

View all posts by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle
Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle is a creative writer and a student of International Studies and English. Some of her work has been published by Shale, Limestone, Indiana Review and Brittle Paper. She is passionate about language, stories and Chipotle, and would almost always rather be writing.

3 Responses to ““I Feel Black and Dirty” | Binyavanga Attacked in Berlin by Racist Taxi Driver” Subscribe

  1. Obinna Udenwe 2016/06/02 at 10:46 am #

    Ah! This is so so sad. I hope justice is served. I hope his neighbours get to learn one way or the other that he is not just human as they are but super-human. I wish him well.

  2. Peter Mann 2016/06/03 at 1:59 am #

    Justice can not be served unless he reports the attack to the German police. As of now, he has not done so.

  3. Adefemi Adejola 2016/06/03 at 11:06 am #

    This assault on Binyavanga Wainaina by a taxi driver is very sad indeed. He should not accept this injustice at all. This barbarous attack should be reported to the German police as soon as possible if not immediately and it should be followed up until the culprit is punished and justice is served. In this day and age some still believe they belong to the super race; but it is the responsibility of the rest of the world to ensure that this misguided belief is perished for ever. Complacency will never serve this………….. I do wish him well.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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