Known as one of Africa’s best-known authors and gay rights Activists, Wainaina died on Tuesday night in Nairobi after a short illness at age 48. His death was confirmed by Tom Maliti, the chairman of the Kwani Trust, which Wainaina founded. Wainaina, who won the 2002 Caine prize for African writing, made headlines around the world in 2014, when he responded to a wave anti-gay laws around the continent by publicly outing himself in a short essay, published to mark his 43rd birthday. He also revealed he was HIV positive. Calling it the “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir “One Day I Will Write About This Place”, the essay I Am a Homosexual, Mum reimagined the last days of his mother’s life, in which he went to her deathbed and told her the truth about his sexuality. After Wainaina came out, Time magazine in 2014 named him one of its 100 most influential people, with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie praising him for having “demystified and humanised homosexuality” after the death of a Kenyan friend, whose family were prevented from holding a church memorial. Wainaina was also known for his biting essay How to Write About Africa, which included the advice: “Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title.
SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN