RIP Binyavanga Wainaina (1971-2019)
Prominent Kenyan author and LGBT icon Binyavanga Wainaina died on May 21 2019
Distinguished Kenyan author, journalist and LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina has died, aged 48.
Prior to the publication of his memoir, Wainaina was announced as the winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, Discovering Home.
Wainaina publicly outed himself in 2014 writing a short story, described by the scribe himself as a "lost chapter" of his memoir titled I am a Homosexual, Mum. This was followed by a tweet reading: "I am, for anybody confused or in doubt, a homosexual. Gay, and quite happy." This decision was spurred by an increase in anti-gay laws which permeated Africa at the time.
How to Write About Africa, a satirical essay published in Granta magazine in 2006, remains one of Wainaina's most significant contributions to the global literary sphere.
The previous editor of BooksLIVE, Jennifer Malec, had the fortune to interview Wainaina when he visited Johannesburg in 2015, in which they discussed his book recommendations, pieces he was working on and why he disliked being referred to as the "the black Jonathan Franzen from Africa". Click here to read their conversation.
The tributes paid to this exceptional author and icon attest to the impact he had on African literature - and society - as a whole:
The course that Binyavanga Wainaina set for Kenya's (and yes, African) literary space! My goodness.— Magunga Williams (@theMagunga) May 22, 2019
Now that is a casket too heavy.
He fought hardest at the end. I hope he rests now. I hope he finally breathes.
Binyavanga Wainaina was the public intellectual we needed but didn't deserve. The world is worse off today without him to challenge our prejudices & defend the humanity of everyone. And now his watch is ended— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) May 22, 2019
I remember the early days, from SA to Kwani? open mic at Yaya. Audacity of possibilities. You started something special. You made important contributions to our writing space. You lived your truth. Now go in peace bro. "Binyavanga Wainaina"— Oyunga Pala (@realoyungapala) May 22, 2019