Binyavanga Wainaina is dead – The Prize-winning Kenyan writer died after a short illness at the age of 48.
He won the Caine Prize for African writing in 2002 and was best known around the world for his satirical essay How to Write About Africa.
Wainaina was also named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2014 for his gay rights activism.
He “demystified and humanized homosexuality” author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote at the time.
Wainaina was one of the first high-profile Kenyans to openly declare he was gay and “he felt an obligation to chip away at the shame” that people felt about being gay, Adichie added.
Homosexual relations are currently illegal in Kenya but the Supreme Court is due to rule on Friday whether to overturn the law banning them.
Wainaina had won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Discovering Home in 2002. Following the passage of a series of anti-gay laws across Africa in 2014, Wainaina publicly announced that he was gay.
In December 2016, Wainaina posted on Twitter that he was HIV-positive.
In 2014, his personal life took centre stage when he told the world he had known he was gay since he was five, BBC reports.
A year later, he suffered a stroke. The next year, in 2016, he announced he was HIV-positive on World Aids Day. In 2018, against all odds, he said he would marry his boyfriend in South Africa.
Wainaina will not have his wedding. But he leaves behind an LGBT community in Kenya, many of whom were emboldened by his bravery.
Rest in peace Binyavanga Wainaina. Its sad that you didn't live to your dream wedding with your boyfriend. pic.twitter.com/fxpr4HW4xK
— Naomi Wangui (@nayomikui) May 22, 2019
Binyavanga Wainaina, Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/SwXFthwl6f
— DrOO• (@DrOOelm) May 22, 2019