Vivian: I got trolled for taking a selfie with Steve Harvey

Vivian Wambui

Kenya songstress and author Vivian Wambui.

Photo credit: Pool

How did it feel to go viral and have Kenyans learn about your relocation after your photo with Steve Harvey?

About my selfie with Steve Harvey, I intentionally posted it and I did not expect anything less of what was said. Kenyans can be bullies but I am no longer affected by trolls. 

I partially re-located to the United States and I live in Georgia. I am in school, so that is one of the reasons I came here. I am doing a course in psychology. I’m almost completing my studies but I am also ready to explore the opportunities available. It was a different atmosphere, but I felt like I needed this way of life.

I had just done a short course in marketing but I had never specialised. When I wanted to go back to school before, my music career had blown up and I didn’t have enough time. I have decided to get out of my comfort zone. The universe has its plans for all of us and I am taking this season as immense growth. I also felt like Kenya was so hostile for me, especially after I went through the separation. I felt like my daughter and I needed the change and see life from a new perspective.

Vivian Steve Harvey
Singer Vivian takes a selfie with Steve Harvey.
Photo credit: Pool

Does that mean you have stopped doing music?

Celebrity culture can easily deceive you about what you have achieved in life. They say you have to do the work to achieve things in life.

I have been in Kenya for so long and I have dedicated my life to music, so I felt I wanted to do something different. Something that I want. It was not easy, but I took the risk and the opportunity. I like the fact that I can walk anywhere and just be Wambui. The organisation here and the facilities are perfect! I moved alone, but there are plans to bring my daughter with me by the end of the year.

I will still produce good music here. One day at a time; without a lot of pressure. I don't want to limit myself to one area and that is why I want to try other avenues like writing and, soon, I am starting a Podcast.

One of the signs that I needed a change, was that I was struggling to get well-paying gigs.

How was it going through a separation in the public and how did you navigate?

As human beings, we need to expand beyond social media. I was harshly judged and I did not get any help from the public. I had to figure it out by myself. My ex is a speaker and he preaches the Bible a lot.

I joined bible school to gain clarity for myself but ended up battling control issues there because they wanted me as a separated woman to dedicate all my time to the church community.

I was unwilling to do that and had to leave that group too. I had already decided to focus on my life and daughter.

We need to be real with ourselves and learn to spread our network. I had to shut my ears to many people, groups who felt they knew me better; including some family members.

I always say everyone should be able to bet on themselves. I took the plunge and thinned down my focus on my daughter and me. She has a sharp mind and is a great reader, and we are going to prosper.

What advice do you have for people going through breakups, and what lessons have you learned from your own experiences?

Women endure the most, especially when marriages don't work. Even if I were to look back at the reason for my separation, no matter how I said it, it was still going to be about me being the bad person.

At first, when I said I was single, it was not supposed to look like a war between my ex (Sam West) and I. But I quickly realised he was at war with me. The reason things did not work between us was his expectations of me, especially because we both had children from previous relationships.

There were things I could not do for his child but he expected me to do. I internalised so many things that I shouldn't have and that took a toll on me. Those were some of the things that caused my relationship to end, because I only wanted to be a secondary parent. I advise anyone in my shoes to always choose yourself.

What advice would you give to individuals looking to start a new life in the United States?

America has its own set of challenges, with many Kenyans doing well. I recently had a huge performance in Dallas at an African event called Waka Waka.

I know many Kenyans at home would like to travel and explore. It’s a journey of resilience and patience. We must try our best to be informed to avoid shortcuts that leave people in the diaspora trapped. The main struggle I hear is getting paperwork. I would encourage people to follow the genuine avenues when trying.

Hopefully, the recent trip by our government to America will create better options for media and creatives and any other hardworking Kenyan. We must remain hopeful and positive.