Binyavanga Wainaina: Kenyan author and gay rights activist dies

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Binyavanga Wainaina

Prize-winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina has died after a short illness at the age of 48.

He won the Caine Prize for African writing in 2002 and was best known around the world for his satirical essay How to Write About Africa.

Wainaina was also named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2014 for his gay rights activism.

He “demystified and humanized homosexuality” author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote at the time.

Wainaina was one of the first high-profile Kenyans to openly declare he was gay and “he felt an obligation to chip away at the shame” that people felt about being gay, Adichie added.

Last year he announced plans to marry his long-time partner at a wedding in South Africa. The announcement divided opinion in Kenya where homosexual acts are illegal.

He suffered a stroke in 2015.

His brother James Wainaina told the BBC that his family wants to celebrate his life.

“We are in a life celebration mood, we’re looking at this from a human level; it’s a human story.

“Allow that humanness to shine, people are hurting,” he said.

Tributes have been pouring in on Twitter:

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