Africa / Commentary

Support ailing gay Kenyan author, but beware of scams

Binyavanga Wainaina (Photo courtesy of

Binyavanga Wainaina (Photo courtesy of

Popular Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, recently hospitalized after suffering a stroke, needs help paying his medical bills.

His friends and fans have launched fundraising appeals to provide him with financial assistance, but some scam artists apparently have taken advantage of the situation to launch fraudulent fund drives.

Shortly after news of Wainaina’s hospitalization spread, the Rev. Jide Macauley, an Anglo-Nigerian activist, recalls:

“I received several online requests to make a donation to pay off his hospital bill. … I have checked in with a mutual and very close friend who informed me that there are now numerous scammers (as far Kenya and Nigeria) using the situation to extort money around the world. Binyavanga is well known and therefore the shock of his hospitalisation will induce compassion to help.”

Wainaina, 44, who came out as gay early last year, suffered a stroke on Oct. 31 and has been hospitalized twice because of medical problems related to it. He and his family have been advised that he should travel to Bangalore, India, for expert tests and treatment. An estimated US $30,000  is needed immediately plus a further US $20,000 in mid-December, according to Kwani Trust, a Kenya-based literary network that Wainaina helped to establish.

Macauley said he hoped that a unified appeal could be organized. With that goal in mind, here are two financial appeals that LGBTI activists and their friends recommend — one in Nigeria, one in Kenya:

Ake Arts and Book Festival fundraiser in Lagos, Nigeria, on Nov. 28. Contributions may also be made by transfer to the Guarantee Trust Bank account of the Book Buzz Foundation in Lagos. Details here.

Fundraiser at the NEST multi-disciplinary collective in Nairobi, Kenya, on Dec. 1. Donations will go to the Binyavanga Wainaina Medical Fund, set up on the M-Changa crowdfunding site by Kwani Trust. By Nov. 28, that fund has received 1.5 million Kenyan shillings (about US $15,000) from more than 370 contributors. Details here on how to contribute to that fund, which accepts contributions made via Mobile Money, SimbaPay and PayPal. Transfers can also be made to the fund’s Commercial Bank of Africa account in Nairobi.


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