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Binyavanga’s death and religious hypocrisy

Saturday May 25 2019

Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina with writers Yvonne Owuor and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie during a Kwani? book party. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NJOKI CHEGE
By NJOKI CHEGE
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One of the greatest regrets I have as a writer is the fact that I never got to meet and interact with Binyavanga Wainaina, the great literary genius who died on Tuesday.

While every other writer was piling glowing tributes to the fallen giant, I sat there awkwardly, trying to catch up on Binyavanga’s life and, most importantly, his work.

CONTROVERSY

This is a horrible case of procrastination, really, because I had numerous opportunities to attend events where I could have interacted with the writer.

Or maybe this is a warning that my introverted personality, aloofness and cavalier disregard for professional groups and “networking events” might cost me more than I care to admit.

First, a few facts for readers who might not know the man.  Binyavanga died at the age of 48. He was a peerless writer and riveting storyteller; a man whose works and ideas will outlive him for decades, if not centuries to come.

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You folks who think that I am controversial have clearly never met Binyavanga, for nobody understood the consequences of courting controversy like he did. In January 2014, against the backdrop of a wave of criminalisation of homosexuality in African countries such as Nigeria and Uganda, Binyavanga confessed to the world that he was a homosexual.

In 2016, he dropped a second bombshell and told the world that he was HIV positive “and happy”. However, I am not here today to talk about the sexuality of a 48-year-old man. I am here to discuss the utter hatred, vitriol and cruelty with which a section of Kenyans — the “Christians” — are treating Binyavanga.

HOMOSEXUALITY

In the hours following his death, the Internet was full of dreadful and vile comments about the writer, with most comments suggesting that he would “never see heaven”. Armed with Bible verses, the official online “Christian” brigade threw barbs at the late Binyavanga, urging him to say hello to “Satan” and enjoy his stay in “hell”.

The death of Binyavanga was supposed to bring the country together in celebrating a man who used his talent to open doors for younger writers, but instead it brought the worst out of us, and especially our hypocrisy and inability to process reality. But unlike others, I am not surprised by this treatment of Binyavanga, a man whose only crime was to love another man, occasionally dress up as a woman and even wear some lipstick. In fact, I was the more unsurprised that the poor treatment of Binyavanga came from the “Christians” because these so-called “Christians” and other religious folks are among the vilest, most hateful and venomous people we have in this country.

From my experience, the most judgemental, gossipy, wicked and pretentious folks I have ever encountered were those who purported to be “Christians”. 

I subscribe to Christianity, but If I am to be frank, some of the most corrupt persons — including those who kill, steal from and destroy the poor in our society — are people who say they are “Christians”.

We have people in this country whose relatives have been accused of stealing money meant for children’s vaccines and medicines, but they do not get half the scorn we poured on Binyavanga.

DEVIL-CHASING

We live in a society teeming with  men who got married in church who “sponsor” university girls, and priests accused of molesting little boys, but Binyavanga cannot wear his red tutu skirt in peace. For a country where pastors are using your tithes and offerings to finance their lavish lifestyles, these so-called Christians should first put their daddy pastors to task before they touch Binyavanga. For a country where the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections is higher in marriages, these “Christians” should read the Bible to their spouses before they can litter our timelines with useless religious platitudes.

Binyavanga was the most unlikely candidate for everything Christian and religious but through his actions, he helped more people and changed more lives than all the devil-chasing homophobic pseudo-Christians put together.

Of course, I am not against Christianity — or Christians — but the point I am trying to put across is that Binyavanga may have been different, you might not agree with his lifestyle but that does not give us the right to judge him, and make such disgusting comments about him. For Christ’s sake, let’s not pretend here; we are all sinners, what is different is how we sin!

As for Binyavanga, Rest in Peace, you crazy dude!

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