Willis Austin Chimano, one of the stars of Kenya’s sensational band, Sauti Sol, has confessed that he is gay, telling a local outlet that he no longer wants to live a lie.
Sauti Sol is one of Africa’s biggest male bands and won the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards.
Chimano’s opening up about his sexuality is being hailed as a boost to the LGBT community.
The music star joins a growing list of prominent young Kenyans who are coming out as gay or lesbian.
“Young people are saluting him and are seeing him as an icon who comes out to celebrate his life and his sexuality. It’s a good thing, it shows our diversity as a country,” gay activist Kevin Mwachiro said in an interview with BBC.
Last week, Chimano released a solo single, Friday Feeling, that he told the local Standard newspaper was “a true representation of who he is”.
“It is the first time I am expressing myself in a song. You really get to know who Chimano is and that is a heavy crown to carry. It is just a representation of the underground ballroom culture within the queer community… which I am part of,” he is quoted as saying.
Gay sex in Kenya is punishable by up to 14 years in prison a challenge to this law was rejected in 2019.
However, prosecutions under this law are not common and attitudes towards gay people are more liberal than in neighboring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania.
A Kenyan High Court ruled in 2019 against campaigners seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex.
Born on 9th July 1987 the 33 years old, Willis Austin Chimano is a vocalist, keytarist, saxophonist, and member of the popular all-boy band Sauti Sol.
Chimano was born and bred in Nairobi. He is the third born in a family of four (two boys and two girls). His parents gave him the best although he had a difficult childhood as an introvert.
Growing up, he felt like an awkward child as he didn’t like to play like other kids; instead, he loved to watch other kids play. His parents were devout Christians who were strict on routine prayers which were done every evening.
Over a couple of years, Chimano’s sexuality has been the center of concern for Sauti Sol fans, before he came out publicly as gay.
On a photo that was publicly posted on the group’s (Sauti Sol) Twitter account and captioned as ‘Sol Family’ Chimano is seen posing with his Caucasian boyfriend while the other three straight artists are seen in a romantic posture with their lovers.
Willis Chimano met his bandmates Savara Mudigi and Bien Baraza in high school. After completing high school, Polycarp who went to Strathmore school joined in to complete the group.
The group initially formed as an acapella and later as it gained an audience it transitioned to Afro-pop music. Also, their initial group name was ‘Sauti’ (Swahili word which means sound), and later they added ‘Sol’ (Spanish word which means sun). The ultimate name Sauti Sol was supposed to mean ‘voices in the sun.