Renowned Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina dies aged 48.
The writer and founder of ‘Kwani?’ a top Kenyan literary magazine
is a key figure in the Kenyan literary scene and hailed as one of the champions
of the politically progressive art in the East African nation.
The writer shot to fame around in the early 2000s when he
won the 2002 Cain Prize African Writing for his short story ‘Discovering Home’.
The author later set up ‘Kwani?’ magazine, a publication which has hosted other
writers who would in their lifetime, just like him, win the coveted prize.
The outspoken writer came out of the closet and declared he
was gay around 2014, the same year the Time Magazine listed him among the Time
100 “Most Influential People in the World. The writer then suffered a
stroke in 2016, the same year he opened up to the world that he was HIV
positive on World Aids Day.
The writer set tongues wagging, social media ablaze and
ignited interesting debate on stereotypes about Africa when he authored a
satirical essay titled “How to Write About Africa” which was published
in UK’s Granta magazine in 2006. The writer’s pen was both a
description of the African in us, bold interactions about Africa and as an
artist, he would not be boxed into what was ‘normal’ but remained human.
Wainaina’s literary prowess was unrivaled, he has since been
published in numerous global platforms such as the New York Times, The Sunday Standard
(South Africa), Granta (UK), The Guardian (UK), Chimurenga (Zimbabwe), National
Geographic and closer home; The East African, The Standard and Daily Nation
both major publications in Kenya.
In 2003, the Kenya Publisher’s Association, awarded the
author in recognition of his services to Kenyan literature.
The author and playwrite has also served as a Bard Fellow
& the Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and
Languages at Bard College. In 2007, Wainaina was a writer in residence at Union
College in Schenectady, NY (USA). In the fall of 2008, he was in residence at
Williams College, where he was teaching, lecturing and working on a novel.
Wainaina who was born in Nakuru, a town in Kenya’s magnificent
Rift Valley studied commerce as an undergraduate student at the University of
Transkei, he would later persue a Masters of Philosophy in Creative Writing at
University of East Anglia. He previously did his A levels at Lenana School in
Naitobi and O Levels at Mangu High School in Thika a town bordering the Kenyan
His major publications include: ‘How to Write About Africa’, ‘One Day I Will Write About This Place’ ‘Discovering Home’, ‘Beyond the River Yei’, ‘I am a homosexual, mum’ and ‘Nguva Na Nyoka’.
The writer was scheduled to marry his boyfriend in South Africa
around 2018 but that never materialized, the plan was otherwise still in place.
He died Tuesday May 21, at Aga Khan Hospital according to close sources.