LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina dead at 48

Kenyan novelist and LGBT activist Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina is dead at 48.

According to the family, Mr Binyavanga died of stroke at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi around 10pm yesterday.

The internationally recognised author suffered stroke in 2016 and has been battling the ailment until his death.

Wainaina hit the headlines in 2014 after publicly coming out as a gay African man in his short story ‘I am Homosexual , Mum.’ He has won the Caine Prize for publishing another short story ‘Discovering Home’ in 2002.

In January 2007, Wainaina was nominated by the World Economic Forum as a “Young Global Leader” – an award given to people for “their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.” He subsequently declined the award.

In his rejection letter he wrote, “The problem here is that I am a writer. And although, like many, I go to sleep at night fantasizing about fame, fortune and credibility, the thing that is most valuable in my trade is to try, all the time, to keep myself loose, independent and creative… it would be an act of great fraudulence for me to accept the trite idea that I am ‘going to significantly impact world affairs.”

In 2016, the outspoken activists revealed to the world that he is HIV positive on World Aids Day. He said that the impact of a 23 year old gay friend’s death after struggling with the disease secretly forced him to come out.

The founder of literary magazine Kwani was set to do a documentary on homosexuality in Kenya before his untimely demise.

Former executive director of gay and lesbian coalition of Kenya (galck) David Kuria mourned his friend terming his demise as huge loss to the Kenyan and African literally community and Human rights communities.

“His coming out especially after having attained professional success helped demonstrate sexual orientation is no hindrance to one’s professional capabilities. The question though is if he’d come out earlier would Kenyans have embraced him?” said Mr Kuria.

{ Read: LGBT+ refugees in Kenya protest outside UNHCR HQ }

 

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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