Edwin Chiloba, a prominent LGBTQ+ activist and fashion designer, has been murdered in Kenya.
Chiloba’s body was found in a metal box dumped by the side of a road in Uasin Gishu County on Wednesday (4 January).
Police discovered this after a motorcycle taxi driver reported seeing a car without license plates dump the box.
The body was identified as Chiloba and later moved to a nearby hospital for autopsy.
A spokesperson for the police said the investigation was ongoing, stating: “We don’t know for now why he was killed that way. Experts are handling the matter.”
Tributes from friends and family described Edwin Chiloba as “an amazing human” and an “iconic fashion designer.”
Chris Makena, a fellow activist, and friend, said: “He spread love wherever he went, was bold about his existence as a queer man, and encouraged many others to do the same.”
A model and designer, Chiloba made a significant impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya and frequently spoke against the discriminatory laws there.
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya described him as “another soul lost due to hate.”
“Words cannot even explain how we as a community are feeling. You will be missed,” the coalition added.
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission also paid tribute, saying: “Edwin was a loved and valued member of his community who used the platforms available to him to fight for what was right.
“Edwin’s death reminds us that queer bodies continue to be attacked all over the country.”
He was remembered by his sister, Melvin Faith, and other members of his family, who last saw him on New Year’s Eve for celebrations. Melvin described him as cheerful at the occasion.
“At about 1 am after the new year fireworks, I met him, and he bid me farewell, saying he would miss me,” she said.
Edwin Chiloba moved to Eldoret in 2019 to study fashion after living in Nairobi and had been building his brand.
He had previously been harassed and attacked for his LGBTQ+ activism.
In Kenya, sex between men is illegal, and gay people can be imprisoned for up to 14 years. Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Kenya deal with frequent discrimination and violence.
Several attempts to decriminalize gay sex have failed, and president William Ruto has branded LGBTQ+ rights in Kenya as a “non-issue.”
Last year, the killing of a non-binary lesbian, Sheila Lumumba, in Kenya highlighted the violence inflicted upon the community.