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Kenyan author, Binyavanga Wainaina, dies at 48

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Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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Prize-winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, has died in Nairobi 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.

Mr 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.

Mr 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.

Kenyan writer and commentator Nanjala Nyabola said Mr Wainaina had shown Kenyans that literature was not just a way to express oneself – it could also be a valuable career:

“He reopened the possibilities of Kenyan literature,” she told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

Mr Wainaina challenged Kenyans to rethink their negative stereotypes about homosexuality, Nyabola added.

“Inasmuch as homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, there are people who are very comfortable with their identity… but the public space for acceptance and respect has always been lacking and even characterised by violence,” Mr Nyabola said.

“What he said is ‘look I’m here and I’m still the same person that you know and love and respect ‘… I think it’s incredibly powerful,” she added.

Homosexual relations are currently illegal in Kenya but the Supreme Court is due to rule on Friday whether to overturn the law banning them.

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