Last saturday gave us a whole new set of reasons to love Lagos and its amazing literary community.
When the news came a few days ago that Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina had suffered a stroke, [read here if you missed it], Lola Shoneyin, Victor Ehikhamenor, Toni Kan, and others swung into action and launched the #naija4binyavanga fundraising event.
The even took place at Freedom Park. Proceeds from books sold and artwork auctioned went towards Binyavanga’s treatment.
The event was a success. Binyavanga’s fans, readers, friends, and colleagues came out to celebrate him, his work, and support the fund. Specially designed copies of Adichie’s Americanah were also auctioned. Ozoz of Kitchen Butterfly curated a savory menu of delicious food that was also up for sale.
Dami Ajayi, Kathleen Ndongmo, Kolawole Arogundade, Mazi Nwonwu, Eghosa Imasuen, Uduak Isong, and many others were there doing readings and conducting auction sales.
In response to our inquiry, Shoneyin has this to say about what inspired the fundraising event.
Binyavanga has been with us every year since Ake Festival started in 2013. He brings fabulous color and conversation. Apart from missing his hugs and kisses, a lot people were looking forward to seeing him because he is so generous with advice and support. Binyavanga gives a lot of himself and has helped to nurture hoards of Nigerian writers. Naturally, We were greatly saddened to hear that he was unwell and wanted to do something to help raise the money required to get him the best medical treatment. After the festival, I spoke to Toni kan and Victor Ehikhamenor about organizing a fundraiser and they both sprung into action. At the event last Saturday, Efe Paul Azino said, “Nigerians want Binyavanga back, smiling, laughing, talking.” Never have truer words been spoken. So far, we’ve raised N725,343, €180 and $2460. Our target is $10,000 and we’ve been impressed by the support we’ve received from Nigerians. That’s love. We can’t wait to see him at Ake Festival in 2016.
If you ever doubted that there is such a thing as a transnational African literary community, hope this changes your mind.
Here are a few photos and videos I sourced from Twitter.
Video of Muhtah Bakare, Binyavanga’s Nigerian publisher celebrating the author.
— Kathleen Ndongmo (@KathleenNdongmo) November 28, 2015
Video of Lola Shoneyin auctioning off Adichie’s Americanah.
Video of Kolawole Arogundade auctioning off a book.