By Dikembe Disembe
Two outstanding Kenyans have been feted by international magazines. People Magazine, a weekly American magazine of celebrity and human-interest stories, Â named Lupita Nyong’o “Most Beautiful person” for 2014 while Time Magazine listed author Binyavanga Wainaina in its 2014 top 100 Most Influential people in the world.
Lupita, an actress, won the 2014 academy awards for his role in the film Â “12 Years a Slave” as Â best supporting actress. Just recently, she signed a deal with cosmetics giant LancÃ´me to become its first black ambassador. CNN too listed her among one of the 10 ‘new faces’.
In the Time Magazine list, Lupita also featured, making a commentary for film director Steve McQueen.
“[In 12 Years a Slave]Â he gave us a very clear and emotional representation of the time and institution of slavery. The complexity of characters lets you see how slavery was a burden not just to the enslaved but to the slavers as well. The emotional toil affected everyone,” writes Ms Nyong’o.
Enter Binyavanga Wainaina.
Though he became famous after openly ‘coming out’ as gay – a taboo topic in black Africa – Binyavanga, unknown to many, is one of the most authoritative literary minds in Africa, if not the world. The author, winner of Â Caine Prize for Africa Writing award, made it to the Times list alongside other world leaders, scientists, sportsmen, and musicians.
Listed as an artist, Binyavanga occupies his place among world influencers with a ‘foreword’ from the renowned literary icon and Nigeria’s author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She writes of ‘memoirist with a mission’:
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 â€œfaceless other.â€
In the roaring 70s, Time Magazine listed Â Mwai Kibaki as influential. He who would rise to become Kenya’s third president at the dawn of the 21st century.