Binyavanga Wainaina. This is a name synonymous with some of the best that has come out of Kenya in the last twenty years. He emerged when he won the Caine Prize for African writing in 2002. Some would have taken the money and moved to a bigger apartment and lived off his fame until further notice. Not our Binyavanga.
There was a large group of writers, poets, visual artists, rappers, rastafari and other creative types who were part of the revolution that saw the official end of Kenya the bastard state under Kanu. Binj, as he is popularly known, as was at the centre of the most potent of these groupings and with his Caine Prize winnings started a new publication they called Kwani? The very next year a writer out of Kwani? called Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor won the Caine Prize for African writing and we all wept with joy. There is no Kenyan who has been in the creative business in the last decade with the literature focus who can say that that they haven’t been influenced by this man from Nakuru.
He hasn’t done as much writing as those who came in the industry having only written a memoir One Day I will Write About This Place in the last 11 eleven years since he won his Caine; but when he did we all stood up and took note. His 2005 essay How to Write about Africa in the Granta put him front and centre at the push back from Africans against being misrepresented in the world of letters in journalism and literature. It was the ultimate FU to those who would write about us in their publications in a condescending and racist manner. Since then he has built his name as the moral voice against those who assault Africa. He was now entrenched as an African brand.
Last year he dropped a bombshell where he revealed that he was gay in the essay I am a homosexual mum in the Chimurenga. While these kinds of candid announcements are quite common in many parts of the world, his made him the most prominent African to have made one. His name was now internationally recognised.
On October 31st 2015, Binj suffered a stroke at his home near the Bomas Of Kenya. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Karen Hospital. His speech was affected, and he needed to undergo MRI and CT scans, in addition to round the-clock observation. The doctors recommended medicinal treatment and specialized speech therapy. Binyavanga was discharged on Friday 6th November.
On Friday 13th November, he developed some physical difficulties arising from the stroke. Following a scheduled appointment with a neurosurgeon, Dr David Oluoch Olunya, it was decided that he be admitted to Nairobi Hospital for further observation.
He was immediately checked into ICU for 24 hours and upon stabilization, he was moved into the general ward. Nairobi Hospital doctors advised that Binyavanga has a chronic condition that affects the blood vessels to the brain making him susceptible to blockages and strokes. They also stated that an immediate intervention is required before extensive therapy beyond first-stage treatment.
Through consultation, it has been agreed that the best medical care is in Bangalore, India where further tests will be conducted with the possibility of surgery. This would be followed by rehabilitation, recuperation and basic care. We are currently working on his hospital-to-hospital transfer to India.
His family and friends are now making an appeal for assistance to his extended family, large network of friends and professional colleagues. Medical fund accounts (banking and mobile banking) have been established in Binyavanga Wainaina’s name where all financial donations can be sent.
From a preliminary assessment of the costs of travel (for him, an accompanying family member, doctor and nurse with their equipment), tests, medication, basic care, speech therapy and a period of recuperation, it is estimated that $25,000 is needed immediately, and a further $20,000 in a month’s time totalling US$45,000 (Kshs4,500,000).
If you want to contribute the your pledges and donations should be forwarded to the BINYAVANGA WAINAINA MEDICAL FUND with the following details;
Bank Name: Commercial Bank Of Africa (CBA)
Account Name: Binyavanga Wainaina Medical Fund
- KES (Kenya Shillings) Account: 6564760155
- USD (US Dollar) Account: 6464760168
Bank Transfer Information (Applicable to both accounts)
SWIFT CODE: CBAFKENX
BANK CODE: 07
BRANCH CODE: 000
BRANCH: WESTLANDS BRANCH
You can also contribute to that kitty via M-Changa here.
Away from Kenya, Nigerians including Kachifo Limited, Ake Arts and Book Festival, Vee Global Concepts Ltd, Sabi News and Freedom Park are trying to raise $10,000 for Binj. There will be a fundraiser this Saturday, November 28, at the Members’ Lounge of Freedom Park in Lagos, from 12 noon to 6 PM. There will be readings, signings, an art auction, food and drink courtesy of Kitchen Butterfly, and more.
If you are in Lagos you are asked to come out, lend your support, buy a book. If you cannot attend the fundraiser, you may send donations to Book Buzz Foundation, organisers of Ake Festival to:
Bank: Guarantee Trust Bank
Account name: Book Buzz Foundation
Account number: 0127306840
Branch: Oba Akran, Lagos
Ref: For Binyavanga
So ladies and gents lets do this. #LoveForBinyavanga