1



Binyavanga Wainaina

  • Kenyan author
  • Born January 18, 1971

Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina (18 January 1971 – 21 May 2019) was a Kenyan author, journalist and 2002 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. In April 2014, Time magazine included Wainaina in its annual TIME 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World".


I believe in, and will to the best of my ability fight for, equal rights and freedom of opinion for everyone, regardless of colour, religion, nationality, orientation - you know the rest.




Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel prize.




I want to be fighting for a society accountable towards its citizens.




I am quite excited that Moi is leaving. Kenyans have changed. We have a free press, and it is no longer a situation of 'follow in my footsteps.'




I'm extremely optimistic about rapid transformation and change of things in Africa in general.




I knew I didn't want to come out in the 'New Yorker'; it just felt wrong. It needed an African conversation.




People reach an age... where somebody else's platform is no longer yours.




I, Binyavanga Wainaina, quite honestly swear I have known I am a homosexual since I was five.




Every human being has a bit of gangster in him.




All people have dignity. There's nobody who was born without a soul and a spirit.




Living in South Africa and periodically coming back to Kenya, my relationship with officialdom in Kenya was just insane.




In kindergarten, we had this Irish Catholic headmistress called Sister Leonie, and I remember she would tell us, say, to put the crayons in the box. I remember thinking, 'Why is everyone finding this so easy? Why should the crayons be in the box?'




I love playing with words and texture.




There is no country in the world with the diversity, confidence and talent and black pride like Nigeria.




Every one, we, we homosexuals, are people, and we need our oxygen to breathe.




I'm not even sure I want to use the term 'coming out.'




When I went to live in South Africa, I immediately began to understand what went wrong. Because here was a place supposed to be under apartheid - I arrived there in 1991 - but here a black person had more say and had more influence over his white government than an average Kenyan had over the Moi government.




There's no point for me in being a writer and having all these blocked places where I feel I can't think freely and imagine freely. There just really is no point.




We are a mixed up people. We have mixed up ways of naming, too... When my father's brothers and sisters first went to colonial schools, they had to produce a surname. They also had to show they were good Christians by adopting a western name. They adopted my grandfather's name as surname. Wainaina.




It's like I was always not quite sure even how to move in space somehow; I would watch people and then copy them. I found it really hard to walk straight. My brother was always on at me for walking off the pavement. I guess I always expected people to bring me back into line.




I like the idea of readers feeling a familiarity, whether it's with Africa or childhood.



1