Internationally-renowned Kenyan author Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina died aged 48 following a short illness at a hospital in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday night.
A local daily (Daily Nation) reported that Wainaina died after suffering a stroke citing his family and sources at his Kwani Trust.
Wainaina, who was also a gay rights activist and blogger, won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Discovering Home in 2002. He was named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2014.
In 2003, the Kenya Publisher’s Association honoured Wainaina for his services to Kenyan literature.
Wainaina announced he was gay in 2014 after publishing a short story titled “I am a Homosexual, Mum” sparking debate in Kenya where gay marriage is illegal.
He was admitted in a hospital in Nairobi after suffering a stroke in November 2015 and discharged three weeks later.
In 2016, Wainaina wrote on social media that he was HIV positive and happy.
i am HiV Positive, and happy
— Binyavanga Wainaina (@BinyavangaW) December 1, 2016
In May last year, Wainaina announced plans to marry his partner, whom he said was Nigerian, in South Africa in early 2019.
Kenyans took to social media under the hashtag #RIPBinyavanga to mourn the death of the acclaimed author.
Rest in Power, Binyavanga Wainana. You were a great story teller, in person, and in your writing. When the door opened for your career, you kept it open for all the creatives who came after you. There is Kenya creative economy before and after Binya. #RIPBinyavanga pic.twitter.com/iRERZvcrOV
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) May 22, 2019
Oh no!!! So sad to hear of his passing. Such a loss for Kenya and the world. #RIPBinyavanga
— gathara (@gathara) May 22, 2019
— Njeri wa Gakûo (@NjeriwaGakuo) May 22, 2019
The one who went against the grain against all odds and still didnt let anyone or anything shake his beliefs and will in life. Litrally you lived 'your life' go well. #RIPBinyavanga. Your life lessons are so quietly given but they have a greater impact in all angles of life.
— The Guy (@TheRealisticGuy) May 22, 2019
Wainaina’s death comes just before the High Court in Kenya is scheduled to deliver a ruling on Friday on whether to abolish anti-gay laws.
The court had previously postponed its decision in February this year citing a heavy workload.