Police in Nairobi are investigating the death of Sheila Kawira Mwirichia, a leading LGBT+ activist in the country.
Kawira was found dead in her house in Lavington on Tuesday, police said. She had been reported missing a few weeks ago.
Police said the caretaker of the apartment block where she lived reported that a foul smell was coming from her house.
Police from Muthangari broke down the door and found her half-naked in the living room.
Kawira, a dedicated defender of human rights, used her creativity to advocate for the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
One of her reputable projects, ‘To Revolutionary Type Love’ saw her create kangas featuring celebrated LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Questioning) rights activists.
She was a multi-disciplinary artist known internationally for her kangas along with more traditional fine arts mediums such as painting, drawing and sculpture.
She has curated and hosted several events to celebrate gender diversity and champion for the rights of gender and sexual minorities in Kenya.
Kawira received her Bachelor in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi.
Her friends took to social media to express their shock and grieve following her death.
“Ooh Sheila Rest in Peace, we last met at splash way back (for a jumbo junior club event) fun days huh! I can still remember your lovely smile soft voice and your ‘Aaliyah signature’, I hope you learned how to speak Swahili… I wish we had that elementary school re-union. I will miss you,” said Imelda Ngusye.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Kawira Mwirichia which was confirmed earlier today. Kawira has been relentless in championing for the rights of LGBTQGNC+ persons in Kenya through art. She has curated and hosted several events to celebrate gender diversity and champion for the rights of gender and sexual minorities in Kenya,” a group calling itself Mwa Kenya shared.
“Some of you might remember the “Kanga Love” Exhibition that she hosted in 2017. For the next few days, we will be posting more about her work and achievements, and we welcome you to join us as we mourn her demise. “Death has truly robbed us a great Champion. Rest in Power Comrade,” the group added.
Denis Nzioka, a sexual and gender minority activist-cum-author with a particular focus on LGBTIQ and Sex Workers communities in Kenya and Africa, mourned her saying, “To revolutionary type love and lots of #KangaLove!”