Wainaina: Exit of A Literary Icon

“If life was a highway, Binyavanga Wainaina stayed on the fast lane. And when he swerved, he barely stepped on the brakes.

Wainaina kept tongues wagging and people breathless practically all his life.

He shot to global fame in 2002 when he won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, Discovering Home. He then set up a literary magazine, Kwani, as a platform for emerging writers.

Several contributors to the magazine would subsequently win the Caine Prize too. In 2014, his personal life took centre stage when he declared he had known he was gay since he was five.

A year later, he suffered a stroke. The next year in 2016, he declared he was HIV-positive on World Aids Day.

In 2018, against all odds, he declared he would marry his boyfriend in South Africa – but the ceremony never took place. He leaves behind a bold LGBT Kenyan community in their thousands, many of whom were emboldened by his bravery.

And the literary world mourns one of Kenya’s most celebrated writers.

Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American author and professor, perhaps sums up his life best.”

She wrote in a tweet: ‘’This writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, knows how to get you to sit down, shut up and think. One of the bravest most audacious people I know.’’ BBC Reports