Kenyan School Straight Washes Irish Author's Short Story About Gay Refugee

A secondary school in Kenya has included Barry McKinley's short story 'Almost Home' about a Morrocan gay man living in Ireland on their syllabus but have removed any mention of the character's sexuality.


Irish author, Barry McKinley’s short story about a gay Morrocan man in Ireland was being used without permission in a secondary school syllabus in Kenya.

When McKinley found out that this was happening with no publication rights given to the school, he requested to see a copy of the book to which they said they would dispatch it immediately.

The school apologised for including the story without permission and said it had been a simple breakdown in communication.

In Kenya, the current laws dictate that the act is punishable by 14 years in jail. Homosexuality is taboo in many African countries and the persecution of LGBT+ people is commonplace.

There are no accurate figures for the size of Kenya’s LGBT+ community, rights groups say, as many people are afraid to come out for fear of being targeted.

Campaigners attest that sexual minorities are often abused, assaulted by mobs, raped by police or vigilantes, or enslaved by criminals.

So when McKinley found out that the main character Ali Mafouz had been “de-sexed”, he wasn’t surprised.

As he wrote in the Irish Times, “I wasn’t surprised to find that my principal character, Ali Mafouz, had been de-sexed. His deportation from Ireland to Morocco no longer carried any weight. On the Kenyan websites where Ali’s situation is discussed, he is described as “hardworking,” “stubborn,” “charming” and “disillusioned.” Nowhere is he ever described as “gay”.”

The publishing manager Naima Kassim, responded to the author’s protests saying, “Dear Barry, we are really sorry to have mutilated your initial intention…”.

Barry said that “it seems that the school kids in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu have spotted something amiss, a breakdown in the story’s logic.” As a result receives a large number of visitors to his website from all over Kenya, where they can read the uncensored version of Almost Home.

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