The National Museum of Kenya was on Thursday, May 30 draped in a sombre glow as hundreds of Kenyans joined the family of the late Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina in bidding the renowned writer farewell.
Speaking at the memorial service, relatives of the openly gay author who died on Tuesday, May 21, after suffering a stroke at Nairobi Hospital described Binyavanga as a loving person.
His elder brother Jimmy Wainaina, as reported by the Nation, eulogized the 2002 Caine Prize winner for African Writing and co-founder of Kwani? as an instrumental figure who exemplified literary excellence, cherished family and did his country proud.
"Ken's realities of life may have been different but they were ultimately intended for the good of all. He stood with a strong spirit of being true to self while being selfless," said Jimmy.
A point reiterated by Binyavanga’s uncle, only identified as Mr. Wainaina, who told off critics for castigating the writer on his sexuality.
"As human beings, why do we cast aspersions on people because they are different from us? As a family, we are truly proud of Ken, what he had achieved and for taking our family name to the world," he said.
According to the late writer’s sister Melissa Wanjiru, Binyavanga transformed lives.
"You were so good at ordering us around to take care of ourselves and very very bad at listening to the same advice and we love you because you are love itself… You taught us to open new doors and new frontiers for those who could not speak up. You gave life everything you had. We love you," said Wanjiru.
His other sister June pointed out, “When he was little he did some really interesting things like, we didn’t have a weighing scale you know the kascale for pimaing that you find in the gym, we didn’t have that but we had a kitchen scale. Brilliant Ken put his head on it measured it, put his arm measured it and then added them all up and figured out how heavy he was.”
Among those in attendance was Binyavanga's partner at Kwani? Billy Kahora, writer Zukiswa Wanner, singer Eric Wainaina and several members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Binyavanga was cremated on Wednesday, May 29.