Outspoken LGBT activist and Award-winning Kenyan author Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina has passed on.
Binyavanga, who came out of the closet as a homosexual on January 14, 2014, succumbed to an illness at the age of 48, his family has confirmed.
His brother James Wainaina has told the BBC that his family wants to celebrate his life. “We are in a life celebration mood, we’re looking at this from a human level; it’s a human story. Allow that humanness to shine, people are hurting,” he said.
The late Kwani Trust founder was one of the most prominent Africans to publicly announce their sexuality, a bold move that sparked international debate.
“Nobody, nobody, ever in my life has heard this. I am a homosexual, mum,” Binyavanga wrote in a confession subtitled “A Lost Chapter”, in the book ‘One Day I Will Write About This Place’.
In 2002, at 31, Binyavanga received international fame after winning the prestigious Caine Prize for his short story ‘Discovering Home’. He was named by the Time 100 among the “Most Influential People in the World” in 2014.
“I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch. I am a homosexual,” he wrote on africasacountry.com blog.
Binyavanga who was born in Milimani, Nakuru moved to South Africa after transferring his credits from the University of Nairobi, where he was studying for a Bachelor’s of Education degree, to the University of Transkei to study commerce, reported Daily Nation.
However, he never completed the degree. Struggling to make ends meet as a young man in a foreign country, he began to run a restaurant business. Later, he started writing food and travel articles for the Weekend Argus.
He suffered a stroke in November 2015 that saw him admitted to Karen Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for three weeks.
In 2016, he again made headlines after sharing on social media how he was assaulted by a taxi driver in Berlin, Germany. At that time, he was still recovering from the stroke that had also affected his speech.
According to SDE, On December 1, 2016, during World Aids Day, Binyavanga came out once again, revealing that he is HIV positive. He revealed that he is living with the virus and that he is “happy”. “What I said (in a tweet) is true. I’m HIV positive and happy! That is all I can say,” he said.
In 2018, Binyavanga announced plans to wed his partner whom he had dated for over 6 years in South Africa.