Language

The language used by Binyavanga Wainaina in “How to Write about Africa” is simple, descriptive, and humorous. In what follows, we will look at some key aspects that make the essay stand out in terms of langua…

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Sentence structure

The writer uses mostly medium-length sentences that give flow to the essay. They are descriptive and often include enumerations: “The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.”

However, there are also instances of short sentences that express a brief point or conclusion: “In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country.”; “D…

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Tone

Binyavanga Wainaina’s tone in the article is generally unaffected and ironical. Almost all the essay is made up of punch-lines that mock what Western authors convey about Africa and show the writer’s humour and irony.

Here are some relevant examples: “African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.”; “Elephants may attack people’s property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant.”

The writer’s sarcasm is often obvious when he …

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