Why Uhuru Splashed Ksh100K on Eric Wainaina

  • Kenyan Singer Eric Wainaina (Right) and his wife Sheba Hirst.
    Kenyan Singer Eric Wainaina (Right) and his wife Sheba Hirst.
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta and his family splurged an estimated Ksh100K on veteran musician Eric Wainaina during a special invite to State House, Nairobi.

    The year was 1999, and the nation was marking 1 year since the horrific terror attack of August 7, that left the entire country in tears.

    At the time, Wainaina was earning his stripes at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, US.

    However, his hit single Daima MKenya had resonated across the entire country, making him the ideal candidate at the landmark event.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta (In a cap) pictured at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi during a reggae concert.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (In a cap) pictured at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi during a reggae concert.

    He was requested to come to Kenya where he went on to belt out a rendition of the song. Not a single eye was left dry at the bomb blast commemoration event.

    The lyrics and the melody of the song are so powerful that Kenyans have been calling for it to be adapted as the national anthem.

    Moments after, as he was done performing, he received a special invitation from the Kenyatta family to take to the stage at the 21st anniversary of the late President Jomo Kenyatta on August 22 of the same year.

    “They asked Wainaina to stay, but he couldn’t because he had exams. The Kenyattas sent him a return air ticket and requested him to come back after his exams,” his father Dr. George Gitau recounted.

    A round trip to Chicago cost an estimated Ksh100,000 and the Kenyatta's were more than happy to foot his bill in honour of the late family patriarch.
    The exact amount he received for his labour can be deemed a state secret as it is yet to come to light.

    Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta (Left) and deputy president William Ruto.
    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Left) and deputy president William Ruto.

    Wainaina gave a stellar performance during the private session. 

    A dignitary present at the invite-only event offered him a full scholarship to study music, but he surprisingly turned down the offer.

    He later on confessed to his dad that despite the allure of the offer, he was afraid the sponsorship would come with strings attached, thereby muzzling him from expressing his opinions through his music.

    Two years later, the gifted singer/songwriter dropped Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo, a song that laid bare all the ills in the Kenyan society.

    Corruption was still the largest threat to the country at the time and Wainaina was keen to play his role in pointing it out. 

    In August 2001, the fearless singer grabbed the headlines during the Kenya National Music Festival as he was forced off the stage midway through his performance.

    A guest list that included top government officials such as the late former Vice President George Saitoti spelled doom from the moment he started singing nchi ya kitu kidogo.

    The event organizers swiftly cut the power to his microphone before he could even get to the explosive second verse.

    ''It's a sensitive song. All these big shots of the government were there. I saw them motioning for me to stop. I said to myself, 'I'm not going to stop because a couple of people are getting their feathers ruffled," he narrated at the time.

    Wainaina first stepped into the world of music with Five Alive, a gospel a cappella group. Five Alive consisted of Victor Seii, Bob Kioko, Chris Kamau, and David Mageria, who was replaced by Joe Kiragu. 

    He was also involved in the 2006 launch of Kenya’s National Civic Education Program (NCEP II), Uraia, which aims at fostering a mature political culture in Kenya: a culture in which citizens are able to exercise their rights and responsibilities

    Watch Eric Wainaina's historic song below: