10 years after one of the biggest scandals to ever rock the Kenyan entertainment industry, Eric Wainaina is now sharing the lessons he learnt after cheating on his wife. Eric has been with his wife Sheba Hirst for 21 years now, married for 10 with two kids. He had an affair with Tusker Project Fame contestant Valerie Kimani, which resulted in a child. While he has in the past avoided speaking on the matter, he shared what the incident taught him with Sunday Magazine’s Jacqueline Mahugu.
“I learnt a lot of lessons about faithfulness. We live in a society where men have been raised to imagine that it is OK to have multiple partners and that your friends will keep your secrets for you. You can dog your wife in the company of your best friend there. And when your wife calls him when seated right there with you, he will for sure come up with an excuse for you. Something like… ‘Oh Eric just stepped out…’ I told my friends I don’t need that from them and I don’t want to be their excuse either. Don’t get your girlfriend to call me and ask whether we were with you. I will say nope, I was not,” Eric Wainaina said.
If there is one thing Eric wishes he would undo, it is the pain his cheating caused his wife. This is the reason he is now taking a stand against friends who conceal the misdemeanors of their male friends.
“Of course this comes from having slipped up before and understanding how much it hurt my wife, and deciding I don’t ever want to do that again. The biggest accomplishment for me, in tandem with my wife, is having saved our relationship from imploding.”
While Eric found the fact that his private affairs played out in public disturbing, he maintains that he owned what happened instead of defending himself. He says of the negative publicity that threatened both his music and family:
“Of course I minded, but I owned it. I did not go to the press to start defending myself because that’s not the kind of person I am. Also, a thing like that, while I think it is right to suffer some degree of public shame, making it public is not the way to solve it because all you can do is defend yourself instead of fixing it. I expected it to get as bad as it got, and I was definitely not going to deny it but now it’s in my past.”
Eric Wainaina dismisses the notion of gender-specific domestic roles, and says he is just involved in his children’s day-to-day activities just as his wife.
“I do not believe in gender-specific domestic roles. I don’t imagine that it is my wife’s job to wake up and make breakfast. Between my wife and I, we will make breakfast for the kids, get them showered and dressed, do their hair and send them off to school. I was raised to do the dishes and cook. My mum was very clear about things like that. Sundays and Decembers were house help-free. So we would have to cook, clean, do the laundry and iron too. I have heard men say, ‘Ah, my work was done in bed!’ That’s…not true,” he avers.