When I read Mary Pax's review of this novella I was interested … and then I heard two talks on the BBC about 'Binti' – a name that rings a bell as soon as it's announced …
I thought it would introduce me to an author, Nnedi Okorafor, I'd never heard of, while also read about her very open-minded approach to authorship.
Neil Gaiman praises her … when I bought the book it had become a trilogy – he says ' Prepare to fall in love with Binti' … yes I did!
|Namibia - the Kunene region is in the
north near the Angolan border
The other connecting subject was the setting – the Himba people of Namibia … I'd been fortunate to have visited, with my mother, The Skeleton Coast of Namibia in the late 1980s.
Reading Mary's assessment made so much sense – more so now … when Binti runs off – Mary comments 'How can we shed what we are? We can't completely. Customs and traditions are the foundations of self.'
|Himba woman - self-protected
using the Otjize mix
In the article on the Himba people, Wiki make a salient point … I'd watched a programme of BBC presenters when they visited various places in southern Africa – one of which was the Himba people … where the presenter mocked the red clay (otjize) that the Himba use to protect themselves from the harsh desert climate.
Otjize is a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment – which Binti, the protagonist, takes with her on her travels. Scientifically Otjize supports the low skin cancer rate within the Namibian Himba community.
|Otjize - Red Ochre mixture used by
the Himba peoples
I too couldn't put the book down … the trilogy, not just the novella. On the other hand I related to the Himba and Namibia … the setting, the landscape, the people … I feel quite wistful for those weeks of my life.
Also a while ago, earlier this century!, I'd heard that the OvaHimba people's perceptions of colours was 'limited' … they use only four colour names … now I see in Wiki – that this has been explained, and notes that like many traditional societies, the Himba have exceptionally sharp vision …
|Nnedi Okorafor - with insects in a
Mary Pax has once again praised Nnedi Okorafor for her new story 'NOOR' – well another book I will definitely get to read in the near future … I can't resist this read.
I set out below the various links … in the hope you'd like to check them out …
|Himba woman milking a cow
Africanfuturism is a cultural aesthetic and philosophy of science that centers on the fusion of African culture, history, mythology, point of view, with technology based in Africa and not limiting to the diaspora. It was coined by Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor in 2019 in a blog post as a single word.
Afrofuturism – is a sci-fi sub-category that is about “Black people within the diaspora” often including stories of those outside Africa.
|Noor - the new book
By the way – I wish Mary all the best – she's just been on a course of chemotherapy, which has now finished … so I, and I'm sure you too, wish her the best for her future.
PS - I've never quite worked out how I comment on Mary's blog … but I've known her for many years. I've learnt that Mary has turned off comments ... during her treatment - so that understandably explains this aspect.
Mary Pax – SciFi Worth Reading: Binti book review
Mary Pax – SciFi Worth Reading: Noor book review
Wikipedia – Himba people (and colour perception information, included here)
Wikipedia – Otjize
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