Media Production Editor
The recent murder of LGBTQ+ activist Edwin Chiloba sparked outrage across nations after police found him on Jan. 6 in a metal box in Eldoret, Kenya. Homosexuality in Kenya is considered taboo and punishable by 14 years in prison, and many believe Chiloba was killed as a part of a recent spate of hate crimes against homosexuals. Kenyan police, however, have not stated a motive for the murder, although they mentioned the possibility of a love triangle being the reason for the killing. Only a few days after police found him, they arrested five suspects, one of whom was Chiloba’s roommate, Jacktone Odhiambo.
A police affidavit released on Jan. 9 stated that he died in the home he shared with Odhiambo. Odhiambo, a freelance photographer, was a longtime friend of Chiloba. The affidavit detailed the crime, explaining that “Odhiambo and four other suspects helped in moving, loading and probably dumping the metallic box carrying the remains of the deceased from the vehicle.” The other four suspects were not publicly identified, but Reuters reported that two are minors and none have lawyers to represent them. Police requested to hold the victims for an additional 21 days as they continue investigations.
Upon learning of Chiloba’s murder, human rights groups urged Kenyan police to work just as hard on solving other crimes committed against the LGBTQ+ community. Amnesty International Kenya praised the police’s hard work, but stated that the deaths of other queer Kenyans have received significantly less focus. Following Chiloba’s murder, safehouses around the country have become more popular for LGBTQ+ Kenyans, like those supported by the Dutch organization Trans Rescue. One of the safehouse residents, Arya Rams, said, “‘People were going through other gay people’s social media saying, ‘Have you seen Chiloba? You are next.'”
Edwin Chiloba moved from Eldoret to Nairobi to study fashion. In Nairobi, he became a designer and model. He later opened a fashion business in his hometown and actively fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. His death was a tragedy to many who admired his activism and passion. In an Instagram post from December, Chiloba wrote, “My movement is for everyone. It’s about inclusion. And if I am going to fight what I have been marginalized for, I am going to fight for all marginalized people.” Friends and family remember him as someone who spread love, and they continue to push for justice for him and the LGBTQ+ community.
(Sources: BBC, CNN, Reuters)