NAIROBI – Kenyan writer and famous LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina died in a hospital in Nairobi after suffering from a stroke, his family said on Wednesday.
Wainaina, who died on Tuesday at the age of 48, became one of the first African public figures to make his homosexuality public in 2014.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in the conservative country, and punishable by jail sentences of up to 14 years.
Kenya’s High Court postponed a ruling on same-sex relations on Feb. 22 until May 24, which could pave the way towards the decriminalization of gay relationships in the African nation.
On World Aids Day in 2016, Wainaina revealed that he was HIV positive.
“What I said is true, I am HIV positive and happy. That is all I can say,” he posted to his official Twitter account at the time.
The author of the memoir “One Day I Will Write About This Place” was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2014 for defending the rights of the LGBT community.
Wainaina won the Caine Prize for African Literature in 2002, and was famous for his satirical essay “How to Write about Africa.”
The book criticized the prejudiced way some foreign authors talked about the continent, including pre-conceived images of starving children and landscapes of reddish sunsets.
“You will also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out,” Wainaina wrote ironically in what is considered one of his most emblematic piece of work.
“Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care,” he added in the essay.
Besides being the founder of the Kenyan literary magazine Kwani, Wainaina was also an expert on Africa’s traditional and modern cuisine and collected more than 13,000 recipes from all over the continent.
Wainaina previously suffered a stroke in 2015.