Binyavanga Wainaina Dies at 48

Kenyan author and LGBTQ activist Binyavanga Wainaina died Tuesday, May 21 of illness in Nairobi.

What We Know…

  • Chairman of the Kwani Trust Tom Maliti confirmed Wainaina’s death to The Associated Press. Wainaina founded the Kwani Trust.
  • Wainaina won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002. The organization published a tribute to him Tuesday. Their statement celebrated Wainaina’s creation of the literary magazine “Kwani?” which offered a voice to African authors.
  • Wainaina publicly came out as gay in 2013 in a time when homosexual behavior was criminalized in Kenya and Africa. At the same time, Wainaina publicly revealed he was HIV-positive.
  • He continued to publicly protest against homophobic laws in Africa and homophobic propaganda around the world.
  • In 2014, Time magazine named Wainaina one of their 100 most influential people for his LGBTQ activism.
  • Wainaina is well known for his 2005 essay, “How to Write About Africa,” which criticized Western literary portrayal of Africa.
  • Maliti did not disclose the illness that caused Wainaina’s death. Wainaina suffered a stroke in 2015 but there is no confirmation this was tied to his death.

Wainaina left his mark on the global community with his courageous and celebrated work as an author.