Binyavanga on world's most influential list

Binyavanga Wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina

Two Kenyans, author Binyavanga Wainaina and Director of Investments at Omidyar Network, Ory Okolloh, have been listed among Time's 100 most influential people.

The two were listed alongside former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Russia's president Vladmir Putin Iran president Hassan Rouhani, Pope Francis, Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote, Nigeria's Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, footballer Christiano Ronaldo, Singer Beyonce, and actor Kerry Washington, among others.

Binyavanga was dubbed; 'The Memoirist with a Mission,” by award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who acknowledged his courage to speak out as a gay man in Africa despite the demonisation of gays in majority of countries in the continent.

“The best-known Kenyan writer of his generation, he felt an obligation to chip away at the shame that made people like his friend die in silence. By publicly and courageously declaring that he is a gay African, Binyavanga has demystified and humanized homosexuality and begun a necessary conversation that can no longer be about the “faceless other.” Chimamanda wrote.

Early this year, Binyavanga announced he was gay, causing reactions from the public, with some condemning him and others backing him.

Okolloh, was celebrated for her efforts to create an accountable transparent world for millions through Ushahidi, the online service for crowd-mapping data. She was referred to as “the activist who helps Africans exercise their power,” by tech investor and founder of HICCup, Esther Dyson, who acknowledged Okollo's efforts to support African entrepreneurs and citizens in building their own society at her current position at Omidyar's. “To the extent that Ory’s integrity and courage reflect Africa’s society, we should all stand up and cheer.” said Dyson,

This year's list includes a record number of 41 women, and features people aged from 16 to 78. According to the Times Editor Nancy Gibbs, “As much as this exercise chronicles the achievements of the past year, we also focus on figures whose influence is likely to grow, so we can look around the corner to see what is coming.”