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Binyavanga Wainaina Named One of Time’s 100 Most Influential People


Alert! Binyavanga Wainaina has been named on the Time 100 Most Influential People list, along with fellow authors Donna Tartt, Arundhati Roy, as well as Pope Francis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Redford and Cristiano Ronaldo.

One Day I Will Write About This PlaceThe GoldfinchThe God of Small Things

Wainaina made headlines earlier this year when he came out as a homosexual in what he described as a “lost chapter” from his memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place. The piece was addressed to the Kenyan author’s mother, who passed away when he was 29. Now 43, Wainaina took the admirable step to declare himself gay publicly in the wake of rising anti-gay sentiment on the continent.

Wainaina’s profile is written by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, who has been equally outspoken on the subject of gay rights. In her piece, Adichie describes Wainaina as: “the memoirist with a mission”.

Other authors on the list include Tartt, who was recently awarded the Pultizer Prize for The Goldfinch, and Roy, author of the best-selling The God of Small Things. However, while Wainaina is categorised as an “Artist” on the list, Tartt and Roy are considered “Icons”.

Binyavanga Wainaina by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The memoirist with a mission

By the time he was 10 years old, Binyavanga Wainaina knew he was gay. But he lived in Kenya, a country that demonised homosexuality. And so for years he pretended to be what he was not. In December 2012, his friend — a fellow gay man who had also spent his life mired in pretense — got sick. Even as he lay dying, he could not tell his family that he was sick. His death broke Binyavanga’s spirit.

The best-known Kenyan writer of his generation, he felt an obligation to chip away at the shame that made people like his friend die in silence.

By publicly and courageously declaring that he is a gay African, Binyavanga has demystified and humanised homosexuality and begun a necessary conversation that can no longer be about the “faceless other.”

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Image courtesy of Truth and Fiction


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