Binti and Binti Series Summary

Binti is a trilogy novella written by Nigerian-American award-winning fantasy novelist Nnedi Okoroafor. Published in 2015, Binti is the first of the Binti Series, followed by Binti: Home and Binti: The Night Masquerade. Binti received praise from literary critics and won several highly regarded awards, including the 2016 Hugo Award and the 2015 British Fantasy Award for the Best Novella.

Binti and Binti Series

Plot Summary

Binti

Binti is the eponymous protagonist of the Okoroafor’s Binti. She’s a teenager of Himba, an earthly tribe who doesn’t fancy leaving their home. Binti gets an opportunity to attend the prestigious Oomza University, an intergalactic university. When she learns she’s accepted to study at the school, she becomes euphoric as no one in her tribe has had the opportunity to study at such a renowned university. Binti makes a braid and immerses it in Otjize— stuff made of clay that her people rub on their bodies to stand out from other tribes. She makes the Otjize-rubbed braids look oddly and as well to remain connected to her roots.

So, after learning she’s accepted into the Oomza university, she decides not to inform anyone of her tribe and family about it as she leaves to board a transport ship heading to Oomza. On board the ship, Binti faces hostility from other tribes, especially those of Khouch — another earthly tribe — who were also heading to Oomza for studies. However, they were united by their love for math, science, and education in general. Binti manages to make friends among the academics and scholars onboard, despite being prejudiced.

After a while, the Meduce, known as the Third Finish, attack them on the ship. The Meduce is a jellyfish-like alien race inhabiting the unknown world. They’re warlike and have been at war with the Khouch tribe for eons. They kill everyone onboard except the pilot and Binti. Binti retires to a private section of the ship after the Meduce kills her mates onboard. There, she notices she can communicate with the Meduce with a device called ‘ edan’ that she picked in a desert when she was a child. The device prevents the Meduce from attacking her.

Fortunately, Binti can make friends with one of the Meduce known as Okwu, whom she told she could help the Meduce and Khouch scholars at Oomza University reach a truce. Okwu takes Binti to the chief of the Meduce, who tells her that the Khouch made off with the Meduce’s stinger, which they now display at the Oomza’s museum without the consent of the chief or the Meduce. Binti has been communicating with the Meduce through the edan. However, she can communicate with them directly if she gets a sting from the Meduce.

As Binti has insinuated earlier, she helps the Meduce reach a peace deal with their archenemy, the Khouch scholars, making the Khouch return the stinger. Okwu joins Binti to study at Oomza University. At the end of Binti, the first published of the Binti Series, Binti became a part of the Meduce.

 

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Binti: Home

In the second series of the Binti Series known as Binti: Home, Binti, the protagonist of the novella, is now accustomed to life at Oomza. She has made a few friends Okwu is her closest friend. However, she’s grown emotional from life experiences outside the school, which she struggles to deal with, and she’s confronted rages that affect her mathematical mediation. 

Binti has been struggling to rid of the memories of students massacred onboard the ship heading to Oomza by the Meduce. Her continuous worry causes her panic attack. After a year of studies, Binti becomes homesick. She feels going to do a traditional rite for women of her tribe. She also wants to go home to heal and cleanse herself. She feels her contact with the Meduce has made her unclean. She finally decides to go home. She goes home with Okwu as a means of settling the old hostility between the Meduce and the Khouch people. 

When they arrive home, though soldiers, Binti’s family and the press welcome them home.

Binti can navigate the way without the eruption of another war and now has to deal with the fact that her family and tribe are unaware of her journey to the Oomza. Her people accuse her of being the cause of their misfortune, and even her best friend, Dele, has estranged himself from her.

Binti sees the sacred Night Masquerade that could only be seen by a few prominent men of Himba. The same night she saw the masquerade, the Desert People, whom the Himba people think inferior as a result of their darker skin and uncivilized behaviors, steal her away. The Desert People have advanced civilization and are known as the Enyi Zinairiya due to their contact with the Zinaiya, an alien race, who gave them microbes that enable them to communicate with each other from afar or perceive something from afar. Binti is partly Enyi on her father’s side. 

She now awakes the microbe in her as she struggles to acclimatize with the new environment and find a position in her world as a Meduce, Himba, and now Enyi Zinariya. In her journey, she meets and befriends Mwinyi, a prominent member of Enyi Zinariya. When Binti perceives the Khouch people have attacked Okwu, she rushes home and believes her home and people are unsafe.

 

Binti: The Night Masquerade

In the third and final trilogy, Binti: The Night Masquerade, Binti rallies the chiefs of Khouch, Meduce, and Himba to put an end to their enmity. As a new master harmonizer, she calls upon the ancient Himba culture and peacemaker to settle their differences. Unfortunately, her Himba people have chosen to disappoint her in her peace-making way. Dele, who’s now apprenticed to the chief, is outraged by the Himba people’s decision to forsake Binti and in turn, stole the Night Masquerade costume. Dele appears to Binti in the masquerade; Binti learns it’s the council of a few Himba individuals who decide who sees the masquerade.

Someone shoots Binti dead, leading to the renewal of the feud between the Khouch and Meduce. They fight a war against each in space. Binti’s family is surviving the war due to the Undying Tree on which their home was built.

Okwu and Wminyi prepare to take Binti’s body to Saturn. The newly birthed New Fish flies Okwu, Mwinyi, and Binti’s remains to Saturn. A few days after arriving in Saturn, Binti resurrects with the help of the microbes in the newly birthed New Fish. However, Binti can’t be 5 miles away from the New Fish because it is connected to the New Fish and can fly freely in space without wearing a swimsuit.

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