Binyavanga Wainaina, the legendary author, and activist died at the age of 48, the family has confirmed. He was 48. Below is a quick history of one of Kenya’s most famous exports.
Binyavanga Wainaina was born in Nakuru and attended Moi Primary School in Nakuru, Mangu High School in Thika, and Lenana School in Nairobi.
He later studied commerce at the University of Transkei in South Africa, where he went to live in 1991. He also completed an MPhil in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2010.
Career and legacy
In July 2002 he won the Caine Prize for his short story “Discovering Home” He is the founding editor of Kwani?, the first literary magazine in East Africa since Transition Magazine.
He established it in 2003 and it has since become an important source of new writing from Africa; several writers for the magazine have been nominated for the Caine Prize and have subsequently won it.
In 2003, he was given an award by the Kenya Publisher’s Association, in recognition of his services to Kenyan literature. Among the prestigious publications he wrote for was; National Geographic, The Sunday Times (South Africa), Granta, The New York Times, and The Guardian
Wainaina was a critical thinker and showed off this trait in his satirical essay “How to Write About Africa”, published in Granta magazine in 2006, which attracted wide attention.
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. He was also a Bard Fellow and once the director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature and Languages at Bard College
His debut book, a memoir entitled One Day I Will Write About This Place, was published in 2011.
Binyavanga was a homos3xual and publicly came out in 2014. He did so by first writing a short story that he described as a “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir entitled “I am a Homos3xual, Mum”, and then tweeting: “I am, for anybody confused or in doubt, a homos3xual. Gay, and quite happy.
On 1 December 2016, World Aids Day, Wainaina announced on his Twitter profile that he was HIV positive.
May he rest in peace.