Binti

by

Nnedi Okorafor

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Khoush Term Analysis

The Khoush are the majority ethnic group in Binti’s world on Earth. They’re lighter-skinned than the Himba and they’re mostly city-dwellers. Men wear all black, while women wear white garments with multicolored veils and belts. Khoush generally consider themselves superior to all other groups, races, and species; their conflict with the Meduse stems from the fact that they think the Meduse are inferior, and all the Khoush people whom Binti encounters in her travels to the spaceship treat her with scorn and disdain because she’s Himba.

Khoush Quotes in Binti

The Binti quotes below are all either spoken by Khoush or refer to Khoush. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Tom Doherty edition of Binti published in 2015.
Binti Quotes

“Congratulations,” he said to me in his parched voice, holding out my astrolabe.

I frowned at him, confused. “What for?”

“You are the pride of your people, child,” he said, looking me in the eye. Then he smiled broadly and patted my shoulder. He’d just seen my entire life. He knew of my admission into Oomza Uni.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

“It smells like jasmine flowers,” she said to the woman on her left, surprised.

“No shit?” one woman said. “I hear it smells like shit because it is shit.”

“No, definitely jasmine flowers. It is thick like shit, though.”

“Is her hair even real?” another woman asked the woman rubbing her fingers.

“I don’t know.”

“These ‘dirt bathers’ are a filthy people,” the first woman muttered.

I just turned back around, my shoulders hunched. My mother had counseled me to be quiet around Khoush.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Binti’s Mother
Related Symbols: Otjize
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Inside, I smiled. Government security guards were only educated up to age ten, yet because of their jobs, they were used to ordering people around. And they especially looked down on people like me. Apparently, they were the same everywhere, no matter the tribe. He had no idea what a “computative apparatus” was, but he didn’t want to show that I, a poor Himba girl, was more educated than he. Not in front of all these people.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

We’d all been taught this Meduse form of killing in history class. The Khoush built the lessons into history, literature, and culture classes across several regions. Even my people were required to learn about it, despite the fact that it wasn’t our fight. The Khoush expected everyone to remember their greatest enemy and injustice. They even worked Meduse anatomy and rudimentary technology into mathematics and science classes.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 25-26
Explanation and Analysis:

“Evil thing,” I heard the one called Okwu say. Of all the voices, that one I could recognize. It was the angriest and scariest. The voice sounded spoken, not transmitted in my mind. I could hear the vibration of the “v” in “evil” and the hard breathy “th” in “thing.” Did they have mouths?

Related Characters: Okwu (speaker), Binti (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

I sat up straight, ignoring the fatigue trying to pull my bones to the bed. “I am Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib.” I considered speaking its single name to reflect its cultural simplicity compared to mine, but my strength and bravado were already waning.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

I frowned at it. Realizing something. It spoke like one of my brothers, Bena. I was born only three years after him yet we’d never been very close. He was angry and always speaking out about the way my people were maltreated by the Khoush majority despite the fact that they needed us and our astrolabes to survive. He was always calling them evil, though he’d never traveled to a Khoush country or known a Khoush. His anger was rightful, but all that he said was from what he didn’t truly know.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Okwu, Bena
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

Several of the human professors looked at each other and chuckled. One of the large insectile people clicked its mandibles. I frowned, flaring my nostrils. It was the first time I’d received treatment similar to the way my people were treated on Earth by the Khoush. In a way, this set me at ease. People were people, everywhere. These professors were just like anyone else.

Related Characters: Binti (speaker), Haras, The Chief, Okwu
Related Symbols: Otjize
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
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Khoush Term Timeline in Binti

The timeline below shows where the term Khoush appears in Binti. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Binti
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...anything to her. Binti stops herself from angrily snatching back her astrolabe from the elderly Khoush officer. He’d insisted that he had to do the full scan since Binti hasn’t traveled... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
...otjize, but instead she keeps moving. Most people in the crowd are dressed like the Khoush, in flowing black and white garments. Binti has seen Khoush on TV and a few... (full context)
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
As Binti stands in line for boarding security, a group of Khoush women tug at Binti’s hair. When Binti turns, she notices that everyone else behind the... (full context)
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...finds her room and her group of 12 other new Oomza Uni students. They’re all Khoush and all between 15 and 18 years old. An hour after boarding, the group finds... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...method is known as moojh-ha ki-bira, a term that Binti knows even though it’s a Khoush term. Binti and her fellow Himba learned about it in history class, though they have... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...ever to be accepted into Oomza Uni. Even though the hateful messages and threats from Khoush in her city scared her, Binti knew she needed to go. For her, numbers are... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...blindly believe that just because it was in a book. She also figures that the Khoush gave her a room with subpar security, since she’s Himba—and because she’s the only human... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...skin. Binti snaps that she’s the only human who wears otjize because she’s the only non-Khoush on the ship. Eventually, Binti explains that her people live in a desert with sacred... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...them into a sleep and then slow cook them to perfection. Though the chefs are Khoush and Khoush don’t usually perform rituals like this, the chefs are Oomza Uni students. That... (full context)
Community, Friendship, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Okwu remarks that the Khoush’s skin is the color of the flesh of Binti’s fish. They don’t have okuoko. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Binti asks Okwu about the “current-killer” it used in the Meduse-Khoush war and reminds it that suicide means dying on purpose. Okwu says simply that the... (full context)
Identity, Home, and Travel Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...living astrolabes. Her facemask makes everything smell like desert flowers, which is typical of the Khoush women who probably made it. However, Binti loves it. It makes her feel calm and... (full context)
Science, Humanity, and the Ethics of Research Theme Icon
Fear and Prejudice vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...the ship. She makes sure to point out the Meduse are at war with the Khoush, and the Khoush think of Himba people as almost slaves. She points out that the... (full context)