Some Brilliant Works Binyavanga Wainaina Will Be Remembered For

Binyavanga Wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina. [Courtesy]

Born on January 18, 1971 Binyavanga Wainaina will be remembered for some of the most exhilarating written pieces as well as his activism.

Wainaina, 48, died on Tuesday night after suffering a stroke but he will not be forgotten.

Binyavanga Wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina at PEN World Voices Festival 2008 by Beowulf Sheehan

His first award came in 2003. His services towards the Kenyan literature by the Publisher’s Association of Kenya were recognized.

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He is one of the most renowned writers of this generation with his first book, which was, in fact, a memoir, “One Day I Will Write About This Place” being published in 2011.

Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina at PEN World Voices Festival 2008 by Beowulf Sheehan

Summer of that year, the Oprah Book Club added the memoir to its ‘summer reading list’.

Before the captivating memoir hit the shelves, Binyavanga would be selected by the world economic forum for the ‘young global leader’ award. This was way back in 2007. Then, he also worked as a writer at the Union College, Schenectady of USA.

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A year later, he would move to Williams College as a writer while also working on his novels.

The vocal gay rights activist will always be remembered for his “Discovering Home” which earned him the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002.

Queer Futures with Binyavanga Wainaina, 2015 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature: On Africa © Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center

The third edition of stories includes works by writers from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, most of whom had never before been published.

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In 2014, the LGBTQ activist was named by the Time 100 among the “Most Influential People in the World”.

Apart from being a vocal anti-HIV/AIDS activist, Binyavanga will always be known for founding Kwani, a literary magazine.

Binyavanga and others at African Literature Association Conference platform, 3 June 2015, Bayreuth, Germany

He was also a board member at the Bard College, a contingent of Chinua Achebe centre for Artists and African writers.

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Some of his literary works also include; An Affair To Dismember, Beyond the River Yei: life in the land where sleeping is a disease, How to write about Africa, Eines Tages werde ich über diesen Ort schreiben and Nguva Na Nyoka, co-authored by Wangechi Mutu.

Ready to wed his military boyfriend this year, Binyavanga will always be known for great quotes.

Take for example; “He has money. She will wear the mask he needs”, “Science is smaller than music, than the patterns of the body; the large confident world of sound and body gathers. If my mind and body are quickening, lagging behind is a rising anxiety of words”, “Cloud travel is well and good when you have mastered the landings. I never have. I must live, not dream about living”, just to mention a few.

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A man of many talents, Binyavanga was also an expert in African Cuisine and other various traditional cuisines.

His long career started at New York Times, then over to National Geographic and the Guardian. He has also over time worked in Cape Town as a freelancer for food and travel blogs.

In 2014 Binyavanga, one of the most prominent Africans to publicly announce their sexuality, came out of the closet.

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“I can be selfish. I masturbate a lot, and never allow myself to crack and grow my heart. I touch no men. I read books. I love my dad so much, my heart is learning to stretch. I am a homosexual,” he wrote on blog.

Two years later, on World Aids Day, he again shocked the world when he announced that he was happily living with HIV.

“What I said (in a tweet) is true. I’m HIV positive and happy! That is all I can say,” he said.

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Written by Eva Nyambura

Content creator at | Passionate about telling the untold story. Lover of life, music and technology. Simplicity is KEY


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