Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
There is great beauty in a willingness to see the world through someone else’s eyes. I have come to find it even more important in our world’s changing and uncertain times to surround myself with media that helps to broaden my worldview. In my opinion it is truly one of the best things about literature, more so than any other medium. Reading requires you to use your imagination and visualize. A well written book can take you to another world and allow you to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Binti is a 2015 award-winning science fiction novella by Nnedi Okorafor. Our main character Binti is a sixteen-year-old minority prodigy. She is offered a position at the prestigious Oomza University, something that no one else in her village would ever consider. Part of the Himba people, Binti was always destined to succeed her father in their business. The Himba people are deeply tied to their ancestral land, and they believe that if you move away you will begin to diminish. They even coat their bodies in a special material “Otjize” made from a red clay from the earth and the oil from local flowers. It is what makes Binti’s resolve to venture out into the universe even more inspiring.
Surrounded by people foreign to herself, Binti finds similarities in a love of learning. She quickly makes friends and becomes more comfortable with the idea of being so far from home. Much like in real life, Binti’s leap of faith is not met with an easy road. She is faced with challenges and strife and is forced to find her own inner strength. I would recommend this book to fantasy and sci-fi readers alike. It is a quick read and offers a story that is richly woven with ethnic issues. I am excited to read the next two novellas in the series.