Binyavagan Wainaina the author of One Day I Will Write About This Place who presently lives in Germany as a DAAD Fellow was victim to an assault by a taxi driver some few days ago.
Based on his account of the experience on Facebook, the assault occured when he boarded a taxi to the clinic for a prescription refill while his neighbours looked on willfully refusing to intervene. Binyavagan was invariably vulnerable due to his health – because he was still recovering from a stroke he suffered last year which was compounded by a speech defect and the relative strength of the taxi driver.
His Facebook post, “I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this type of thing is supposed to happen to someone like me” has sparked off responses of varying emotions of fear, anger and sadness from different angles.
DAAD is an academic exchange organisation based in Berlin and it also released a statement condemning the incident.
“The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program has noted with deep consternation, that its current guest, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, has been beaten by a taxi driver in Berlin. We strongly condemn this assault and feel ashamed that such a violent act could occur in our country. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program stands for a culture of welcoming, for tolerance, international artistic dialogue and the absence of difference. We are all strangers encountering different cultures and bringing these together. This is the only way that a true dialogue can take place. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program is in close contact with Binyavanga Wainaina and stands in this situation firmly by his side.”
Although the apology from DAAD is a step in the right direction but more action ought to be taken beyond words. DAAD should explore all the possibilities to redress the violent incident and ensure that justice is served. The German taxi driver should be punished as this will serve as a deterrent to others with similar racist inclinations.