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Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina smiles during an interview with the AFP on January 27, 2014, in Nairobi. (Photo: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

'The Most Audacious Writer I Know:' the African Literary Community Reflects on Binyavanga Wainaina's Legacy

The Kenyan literary icon and LGBTQ activist is being celebrated and remembered for his "fearlessness."

Binyavanga Wainaina was one of the continent's boldest voices. As an openly gay Kenyan man and activist, he put himself on the line to challenge bigotry and anti-gay sentiments in his country. As an author, he denounced trite narratives about African life—often with great wit—and offered perspective and nuance instead.

His extensive works include the famous satirical essay How to Write About Africa and "I am Homosexual Mum," in which the author imagined coming out to his late mother. "Binyavanga has demystified and humanized homosexuality," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote of him in his 2014 Time 100 Most Influential People profile. The two sat down for a conversation back in 2011 at the Lannan Foundation, in which Adichie described Wainaina as "one of her best friends."

He earned a Caine Prize in 2002 for his short story "Discovering Home," and went on to create the literary magazine Kwani. His memoir, "One Day I Will Write About This Place" was published in 2012. His entire archive, from his earlier writings in various South African publications to some of his more recent and well-known works, are listed on the site planetbinya.com. The extensive works listed, illustrate the writer's invaluable contribution to the African literary community and his dedication to combatting the erasure of LGBTQ identity in Africa.


Since his passing on Wednesday morning, several African writers have reflected on his impact. He is being remebered as an LGBTQ icon, a passionate advocate for the community and a bold and "fearless" thinker.

"We have lost a great writer and person," wrote the celebrated Nigerian writer Nnedi Okorafor. "He was the most audacious writer I know. Kind, sweet, charismatic, honest, blunt and such a biting sense of humor. He always spoke his mind and I'm glad he did. His voice was so necessary."

"To me his most important legacy isn't even the writing per se. It's that he made room—he published us, invited us into the platforms, shouted down the walls of Jericho," wrote fellow Kenyan author, Nanjala Nayabola on Twitter.

She also had this to say about the one-of-a-kind author and activist:

Several writers from across the continent have taken to social media to express their appreciation for his work, share personal experiences with him and reflect on his profound legacy. Read their reactions below.








Art
Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Audio
Harmonize, Diamond Platnumz, Burna Boy "Kainama" (Youtube)

The 20 Best East African Songs of 2019

Featuring tracks from Harmonize, Diamond Platnumz, Sauti Sol, Irene Ntale, Ethic, Vanessa Mdee and many more.

2019 was a year full of positive growth for East African music. It saw many artists from the region make the necessary strides to take East African music to the next level.

The launch of new independent imprints continued to develop a class of budding stars. Sauti Sol's new Sol Generation label, for example, boasts a stellar roster that includes artists like Bensoul and Nviiri the Storyteller, who have topped the charts this year. =Tanzanian bongo flava heavyweight Harmonize left Diamond Platnumz' WCB Wasafi records and set up his own independent imprint called Konde Gang Music Worldwide. This is a dramatic move from the bongo flava superstar but it's exciting to see what he and his new label will offer in the coming year.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Cardi B Teases New Remix of Davido's 'Fall'

Looks like the Nigerian star's massive hit is getting yet another re-up.

Cardi B has teased her apparent upcoming remix of Davido's "Fall."

Posting from a private jet, as she was on her way to New York before heading to West Africa, Cardi B shared a video of herself rapping and dancing along to the unreleased remix.

From the sounds of it, Cardi's "Fall" remix will feature a brand new verse from the New York rapper.

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Still from YouTube

Croatian Authorities are Under Fire for Wrongly Deporting Two Nigerian Students to Bosnia

The students and table tennis players were in Croatia for a tournament when they were picked up by police and sent to a refugee camp in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, Nigerian table tennis players and students at the University of Technology Owerri, were wrongfully deported to Bosnia after taking part in a sports tournament in Pula, Croatia, The Guardian reports. Organizers of the event are now demanding that the students be immediately returned to their home country.

Chinedu and Alexandro, both 18, were reportedly picked up by Croatian authorities on November 18—the night before they were scheduled to return to Lagos—in the country's capital Zagreb. They had visited for the fifth annual World InterUniversities Championships, which took place outside the capital in the city of Pula, and competed in the table tennis tournament. They were exploring the city afterwards and say they were approached by two officers while getting on a train and asked to provide identification.

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