#Pandora Papers: ‘Ventures’ magazine named her one of the over 50 people in Africa who were dollar billionaires
By GW Ngari
By now you must have heard that former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta is among the few Kenyans operating offshore accounts holding billions of shillings. Also in this league are her sons, President Uhuru Kenyatta and younger brother Muhoho Kenyatta and their sisters.
Never mind Mama Ngina Kenyatta also draws a monthly government stipend in excess of Sh500, 000. Her dough is 40 percent of what her son currently trousers home a month. Mama Ngina is paid for being the spouse of founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta-who died in August 1978 when Uhuru was still a wiry student at St Mary’s School, Nairobi.
The National Treasury explained that the pay is pegged on the law which stipulates that a spouse of a retired or dead president be provided for with pay calculated at 40 percent the salary of a sitting president.
Despite no records of any basic education, Mama Ngina Kenyatta is easily Kenya’s richest woman
Mama Ngina who is bending her 80s began receiving the pay way before her son became President. But there has been legal debate whether her pay is consistent with the Presidential Retirement Benefit Act which took effect in 2003. But her pay of Sh577, 500 is pocket change for Mama Ngina, easily Kenya’s richest woman, a multi-billionaire in real coin.
Her journey to stupendous fortunes began when at 18, she was married off to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, over 50 years her senior in 1951.
Despite no records of any basic education, professional training or any stints of formal employment , the secured investments of Mama Ngina Kenyatta sweep across hospitality, banking, mining, large-scale agriculture, equities, property, real estate and ranching.
Kenyatta left his family inter-generational wealth which can only be squandered in 100 lifetimes
It is instructive that when her husband left Kapenguria Prison in 1959, Jomo Kenyatta had nothing to bank on. When he died in 1978 after 15 years as president, he left his family inter-generational wealth which can only be squandered in 100 lifetimes of utter idiocy.
Curiously, she once confessed in a local vernacular radio station some years back that she struggled with school fees as Kenyatta left her with little to go on!
Yet, Mama Ngina’s combined stake together with sons, President Uhuru and Muhoho Kenyatta was 13.21 percent of the merged NCBA bank worth Sh6.6 billion and held through Enke Investments. Mama Ngina holds another 11.93 percent through Ropat Nominees Ltd worth Sh5.9 billlion and another 5.7 percent through Ropat Trust Company valued at over Sh2.9 billion.
Besides farms and businesses in Brazil, the Kenyattas have a fortune running into billions of shillings
Indeed, Mama Ngina was one of only three women dollar billionaires in Africa. The other two being Isabel Dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s president and Nigerian oil tycoon, Folorunsho Alakija. The family wealth of which she was a beneficiary was built over time, actually, in the first 15 years of Kenyatta becoming President.
British historian Charles Hornsby notes in his 2013 effort, Kenya: A History since Independence that “The Kenyattas were probably the wealthiest African family in Kenya. They owned the Heritage Hotels chain, the Hilton Hotel, and hotels in most of the main parks.
The family owned Brookside Dairies, which had taken over much of the urban market for milk. They still had vast tracts of land in the Rift Valley, on the coast and along the Nairobi–Thika road,” besides farms and businesses in Brazil and a fortune running into billions of shillings.
Besides prime beach land, Mama Ngina also engaged in sale of game trophies including lucrative export of baby elephant ivories
Besides prime beach land, Mama Ngina also got licenses from the Ministry of Wildlife and Natural Resources to engage in the sale of game trophies including the lucrative export of baby elephant ivories before a ban was imposed in 1977.
Using her position and that of her husband, Hornsby notes that Mama Ngina was allocated or bought on the cheap large farms through Mzee Kenyatta’s personal approval, but which exempted her property from review by land control boards.
In 1975, Britain’s Sunday Times in an expose on the Kenyatta’s listed her vast farms including Mama Ngina’s own 26,000-acre farm in Kiambu, and another in Rongai, Nakuru, next to Kenyatta’s own. The Sunday Times also included Kenyatta and Mama Ngina’s beach plots, 11 prime properties by 1972, but which the Mombasa Municipal Council waived all rates.
Mama Ngina was allocated or bought on the cheap large farms through Mzee Kenyatta’s personal approval
The American Embassy through protests of Ambassador Anthony Marshall were followed by hostile press coverage in the US and the UK. In fact, copies of Time magazine carrying the story were impounded at the airport and destroyed. It was only after America threatened to cut foreign aid that Kenya backed down.
“The Criticos license was revoked in December, and Mama Ngina returned one of the mines, though the other remained in family hands. Compensation was only paid to the Americans when Kenya needed US military assistance in 1976,” notes Hornsby.
Mama Ngina returned one of the mines, though the other remained in family hands
Mama Ngina is still in mining, Beth Mugo still operates Beth International, a gemstone concern. Saul and Miller returned to Kenya after Mzee Kenyatta’s death in August 1978 and continued profiting from Nga’ang’a Mine until the 1990s when they fell out with each other and is now owned by politician Johnston Muthama.
Business links gave President Moi another reason to favour Uhuru Kenyatta as his replacement
Following Kenyatta’s death, the CIA Report the Economic Intelligence Weekly Review dated August 31, 1978 on Mama Ngina stated that she “owns at least 115,000 hectares including a 13,000 hectare ranch in the Kiambu district, two tea plantations at Matu and Mangu, and three sisal farms near the Tanzanian border. She also has considerable holdings in the resort areas around Mombasa and is involved in coffee plantations and in the Kenyan ruby mines”.