The renowned Kenyan author, blogger and gay rights activist, Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina passed on after suffering a stroke on May 21, 2019. The news of his death was made public by his family and several news outlets. As a way to remember his life, we are going to look at some memorable facts about his life. These are the top 5 you didn’t know about Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina.
5. Education Background
Kenneth attended Moi Primary School in Nakuru, Mangu High School in Thika and Lenana School in Nairobi. He had his eyes set on a lucrative accounting career before settling on literature.
He moved to South Africa after transferring his credits from the University of Nairobi, where he was studying for a Bachelor’s of Education degree, to the University of Transkei to study commerce. Kenneth, however, didn’t complete the degree as he was struggling to make ends meet.
4. Writing Career
Following his education, Wainaina worked in Cape Town for some years as a freelance food and travel writer. In July 2002 he won the Caine Prize for his short story “Discovering Home”.
In 2003, he was given an award by the Kenya Publisher’s Association, in recognition of his services to Kenyan literature. He has written for The EastAfrican, National Geographic, The Sunday Times (South Africa), Granta, The New York Times, Chimurenga and The Guardian (UK).
Binyavanga was also the founding editor of Kwani? which was established in 2003. The magazine has since become an important source of new writing from Africa; several writers for the magazine having been nominated for the Caine Prize and have subsequently won it.
3. Coming out as a Homosexual
Kenneth officially came out as a homosexual in an article titled I Am a Homosexual, Mum that got Kenya and the rest of the world talking. An excerpt from the piece let out his closely guarded secret as he let the world know through a re-imagination of his mother’s last days as she lay on her deathbed.
Never, mum. I did not trust you, mum. And. I. Pulled air hard and balled it down into my navel, and let it out slow and firm, clean and without bumps out of my mouth, loud and clear over a shoulder, into her ear. “I am a homosexual, Mum”.
He later tweeted that “I am, for anybody confused or in doubt, a homosexual. Gay, and quite happy,” putting to rest the debate the article stirred.
On December 1, 2016 (World Aids Day) Wainaina announced on his Twitter page that he was HIV positive.
“What I said (in a tweet) is true. I’m HIV positive and happy! That is all I can say,” he said.
1. Proposing to his partner
In 2018 Wainaina proposed to his long-term Nigerian partner after dating for six years. He broke the news via social media where he added that they would be living in South Africa where his partner was studying. The author praised on his lover saying he was a “gentle” person with the “most gorgeous heart” and promised a grand reception in Nairobi.
I asked my love for his hand in marriage two weeks ago. He said yes, nearly immediately. He is Nigerian. We will be living in South Africa, where he will be studying next year .
We will have a reception for Kenyans in Nairobi sometime next year too. Nothing has surprised me more than coming to love this person, who is gentle and has the most gorgeous heart. I consider myself hugely lucky that he loves me and I have only recently fallen in love with him, but we have known each other and have been dating on and off since 2012