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Tributes paid to Binyavanga Wainaina who has died aged 48

TRIBUTES: Binyavanga Wainaina

THE LITERARY world is paying tribute to Binyavanga Wainaina after it was revealed he died aged 48.

The Kenyan author and gay rights activist Wainaina died in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday following a short illness, the BBC reported.

His death comes just over a year after he announced his engagement on Facebook after proposing to his partner.

"I asked my love for his hand in marriage two weeks ago. He said yes, nearly immediately. He is Nigerian. We will be living in South Africa, where he will be studying next year. We will get married there, early next year. We will have a reception for Kenyans in Nairobi some time next year too.

"Nothing has surprised me more than coming to love this person, who is gentle and has the most gorgeous heart. I consider myself hugely lucky that he loves me," Wainaina wrote.

Wainaina came out as gay in an essay published that was published in The Guardian in 2014. He was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the same year.

In the essay, a previously lost chapter from his 2011 memoir One Day I will Write About This Place, Wainaina shared his struggle with telling his friends and family that he was gay.

In Kenya homosexuality is illegal and carries a jail sentence of up to 14 years. The Kenyan supreme court is set to rule on Friday on whether to get rid of laws that criminalise people because they are gay.

Wainaina was renowned for his satirical essay How to Write About Africa.

In the acclaimed piece, the Caine Prize for African writing award-winning author wrote about how “grassroots Africa is good for backpacking because it is the real Africa (no AK47s to bother you, no German package tourists)” and how Nairobi was a good place to be an international correspondent because of the “regular flights to the nearest genocide”.

James Wainaina told the BBC: "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."

Amnesty Kenya tweeted: “We pay tribute to award winning author, Binyavanga Wainaina. A gallant human rights defender who stood up & fought for the dignity & rights of LGBTQ community & others. Rest in power #BRAVE”

Jacaranda Books tweeted: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Binyavanga Wainaina, a wonderful writer, a brave and fierce activist, a shining light for so many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his friends and the many people whose lives he touched.

Author Mona Eltahawy said: "Very sad to hear that author Binyavanga Wainaina has died. I am honoured to have met him, broken bread with him, and shared much laughter with so many mutual friends. Rest in power, Binj."

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