Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina declares: ‘I am homosexual’

by Rachel Baker on January 25, 2014

Binyavanga Wainaina is is a Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.

According to Wikipedia:
In January 2007, Wainaina was nominated by the World Economic Forum as a “Young Global Leader” – an award given to people for “their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.” He subsequently declined the award. In a letter to Klaus Schwab and Queen Rania of Jordan, he wrote:
I assume that most, like me, are tempted to go anyway because we will get to be ‘validated’ and glow with the kind of self-congratulation that can only be bestowed by very globally visible and significant people, and we are also tempted to go and talk to spectacularly bright and accomplished people – our ‘peers’. We will achieve Global Institutional Credibility for our work, as we have been anointed by an institution that many countries and presidents bow down to.

The problem here is that I am a writer. And although, like many, I go to sleep at night fantasizing about fame, fortune and credibility, the thing that is most valuable in my trade is to try, all the time, to keep myself loose, independent and creative… it would be an act of great fraudulence for me to accept the trite idea that I am ‘going to significantly impact world affairs’.

Little did he know seven years ago, that he would be front and center to significantly impact world affairs.

Mr. Wainaina shows an amazing level of courage when you realize that “Persecution of gay and lesbian people in Africa has been in the headlines since Nigeria passed new laws criminalising homosexuality and launched a wave of arrest.

Uganda’s parliament in December passed a draconian law that called for life sentences for “aggravated homosexuality”, which was vetoed by the president, Yoweri Museveni.”

Mr. Wainaina, You are an inspiration for so many. May your courage never wane. I wish you well – and pray you stay safe!

Binyavanga Wainaina, one of Africa’s leading literary figures, has responded to a wave of recent anti-gay laws on the continent by publicly outing himself in a short story.

The Kenyan author and founder of the influential Nairobi-based literary journal Kwani said he would continue to travel to Nigeria, where gay and lesbian people face arrest and up to 14 years in prison under new legislation, and Uganda, where MPs have passed a bill imposing life sentences for homosexual acts.

“I’m a pan-Africanist; I belong to this continent,” said Wainaina.

A regular visitor to Nigeria, where he said he had “lots of fun”, the writer added that returning now would be an “adventure”.

One of the most high-profile Africans to announce his sexuality, he published I Am a Homosexual, Mum, at the weekend to coincide with his 43rd birthday. Calling it the “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir, it is a re-imagining of the last days of his mother’s life, in which he goes to her deathbed and tells her the truth about his sexuality.

Check out the remainder of the article here:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/21/kenyan-writer-binyavanga-wainaina-declares-homosexuality

Here is another article from the NYTimes.com, entitled: Writer Tells Africa What He Couldn’t Tell ‘Mum’
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/25/world/africa/as-africa-debates-gay-rights-writer-comes-out.html?_r=0

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