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Pandora Papers: How the Kenyattas became billionaires from the ‘economy of affection’

 Self-aggrandizement, crony capitalism and nepotism made all the difference for Kenya’s First Family!  

The chosen few: The Kenyattas from left, Muhoho, Mama Ngina, President Jomo and future President Uhuru Kenyatta. Mama Ngina has no formal education or training in anything. Uhuru only briefly an intern at KCB Kipande House branch after leaving Amherst College in 1985, before venturing into exporting French beans until 1994.
Muhoho has only worked for the family business which today, has billions in tax havens abroad, according to the recently released Pandora Papers-which details how Uhuru, his mother and siblings all have offshore shell companies and foundations holding equities, properties and real estate in prime capitals of the world.

By GW Ngari

Editor-at-large

The Kenyatta family has come a long way if you consider that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s father once worked as a ‘Kanjo’, reading water meters for the City Council of Nairobi for Sh250 a month. He even rode a motorbike, very prestigious in the 1920s.

Even more interesting is that Uhuru’s dad went to prison with nothing, left with nothing, seven years later. In fact, Jomo Kenyatta was near broke when he became President in 1963. He was often bailed by Bruce McKenzie, the only mzungu Minister in his government. It later turned out McKenzie was a spy on payroll of the Israeli, British and South African intelligence services.

Anyway, in the 15 years Jomo was Kenya’s founding president, he didn’t need McKenzie’s money. The Presidency was enough conveyor belt of elaborate wealth that even with diminishing drive which comes with succeeding heirs, wasting the Kenyatta family billions would take a generation of peerless nincompoops.  

President Kenyatta’s only daughter recently gave birth at Aga Khanthat grandchild will never work in her life!

Uhuru’s son in-law: Alex Mwai, the baby daddy of Ngina Kenyatta, President Kenyatta’s only daughter who recently gave birth to a daughter at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi. With billions in Kenya and offshore accounts ensures a whole generation of the Kenyattas will never really work for the next 300 years!
Mwai is the son of Sam Mwai, the sports marketing guru and manager of the Karen Golf and Country Club, Nairobi.

 Though the Kenyattas have discernible business foresight and many successful ventures, a huge chunk of the family fortune was coined using the extractive nature of the state: self-aggrandizement, crony capitalism and nepotism also called the ‘economy of affection’ besides employing favourable state policies to buttress their profits over the years. 

Their other source was Kenyatta,the patron-in-chief of a patronage system, exercising a thin line between state and personal resources. Sharing the equivalent of an entire district in Taita Taveta and sharing it 50-50 with business fixer George Criticos and casually asking for a title deed without forking a coin was a case in point, as former Central Bank Governor Duncan Ndegwa notes in his memoirs, Walking in Kenyatta Struggles: My Story, published in 2009.

Pandora Papers revealed family of Uhuru’s Personal Assistant have held offshore accounts since the early 1980s

Down marrying: President Uhuru Kenyatta Personal Assistant, Jomo Gecaga is the Baby Daddy to former radio queen Valentine Njoroge’s son, Udi, named after his father, Udi Gecaga. He is also Baby Daddy to former television anchor Anne Kiguta’s last born kids. But he doesn’t live with any of them at Gem Suites on Riverside Drive where he has paid Evans Kidero, his landlord, Sh30 million in six years to 2020.
The Pandora Papers revealed that Udi had long held offshore accounts since establishing Blim Securities in Liechtenstein in 1977. Through Blim Securities, Udi bought a large family mansion an hour’s drive from London and another in the upmarket London hood of Knightsbridge. Liechtenstein is one of the world’s top secrecy havens where revenue authorities, courts, creditors and ex-spouses have zero access. Udi separated from Jeni Kenyatta-who cannot chase her alimony payments in Liechtenstein!

Indeed, at independence, notes Ndwegwa, getting a beach plot in Mombasa was only through Mama Ngina and her hubby-and they allocated themselves prime locations which laid the foundations for their forays in hospitality and for which the Kenyattas still sing their eternal financial Hosannas.

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Something else: There has always been a Kenyatta family member in various government positions in all regimes since independence: Margaret Kenyatta, Jomo’s firstborn daughter, was first Woman Mayor of Nairobi, son Peter Muigai was MP for Juja while Uhuru’s cousins; Ngengi Muigai and sister Beth Mugo have been MPs and Beth is now a Nominated Senator. And wasn’t Muhoho Kenyatta nominated ‘Honorary Wardens’ of our National Parks? Quite telling when you consider the resorts the family runs in our Game Reserves, won’t you say?

And today, life could not be better with Uhuru as Kenya’s fourth president. His position provides the family with a strong shield against any risks arising from unfavourable and unpredictable government policies that send fear down the spines of many investors in Africa.

The Kenyattas would not allow her to get married to a spouse of lower status

Upper Decker: Nana Gecaga is the CEO of KICC, a position to which she was appointed by President Uhuru. She dated and sired kids with former Mathare MP Stephen Kariuki, son of Bishop Margaret Wanjiru. But the Kenyattas would not allow her to get married to a spouse of lower status…and dilute the gene pool and divide family fortunes!

And so, surveyed closely, Jomo Kenyatta had more advantages than his fellow Kapenguria Six inmates. He was not only older at 63 than all of them, but he was also worldly wiser from spending 15 years abroad, gaining a college education, learning the value of land and property which he went on to accumulate as fellow Kenyans partied, enjoying the fruits of independence when Kenya got independence in 1963-with Jomo as first President.

Despite the Kenyattas largely rarely working their backs off, Jomo ensured they attended prestigious schools

Set for life: Uhuru and younger brother Muhoho Kenyatta- who have offshore finance and real estate companies with one account holding shares and bonds worth Sh3 billion.
To put that figure into perspective, just know it took the late business tycoon Chris Kirubi over 30 years to accumulate Sh3 billion worth of shares in Centum, the listed investment company-where he was the largest shareholder.
So, where did Muhoho get the midas touch to mint an equivalent amount, considering ‘Mo’ was still in primary school when Kirubi was venturing in business?

And so, the beginning of family fortunes started with Jomo taking advantage of the largesse and windfall that comes with the presidency.

And despite the Kenyattas largely rarely working their backs off to meet basic needs, Jomo ensured they attended school, and prestigious ones at that. Jomo himself set an example by graduating with a diploma in anthropology from the London School of Economics under the famous social anthropologist Prof Branislaw Malinowski.

Kenyatta clearly had advantages of age, education,  exposure, upward marital pedestal

First among equals: Ngina Muthama, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s niece was fingered as a Covid Millionaire after her firm was paid Sh84 million for supplying face masks. Her mother, Nyokabi Muthama, was listed along Mama Ngina Kenyatta as running shell companies in tax havens in Panama and British Virgin Islands.

His ideologies also played a part in wealth accumulation as Jomo embraced capitalism. His maniacal acquisition of land was proof he knew it was the most important factor of production. Kenyatta clearly had advantages of age, education,  exposure, upward marital pedestal and ideological vision. But few manna fell from heaven to the Kenyattas better baked than the Presidency.

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Threatening to close Kenya Breweries during his Presidency, led to allocation of shares without buying them at what is today the Nairobi Securities Exchange writes Charles Hornsby in Kenya: A History since Independence, published in 2013. The family still significant stakes at East African Breweries.

Wasting the Kenyatta family billions would take a generation of peerless idiots

Family Planning: President Jomo with future President Uhuru who was socialized early into power. Unlike other Kapenguria Six inmates Jomo only had seven children from four wives. To make up for lack of distinguished birth, Jomo married into families of higher social status. His first wife, Grace Wahu, was a commoner who was relegated into the backburner as Jomo upgraded.
He married Edna Clarke, a British woman, then Grace Wanjiku, daughter of Senior Chief Koinange, but who died giving birth to Jeni Kenyatta, mother of Jomo Gecaga, President Uhuru’s Personal Assistant. The Kenyattas and the Koinanges are thus related through marriage. Kenya’s Attorney General, Paul Kihara Kariuki, is the son of Anglican Bishop the late Obadiah Kariuki wa Yusufu and Lilian Wairimu, daughter of Senior Chief Koinange. Kenya’s AG is thus the President’s muthoniwa (in-law)!
After Grace died, Jomo still went for another daughter of a chief- Ngina Muhoho, now Mama Ngina Kenyatta, daughter of Chief Muhoho wa Gatheca.
Colonial era chiefs had not only political power, but also resources and networks and what better way to gain access than in marrying into their families?

Hornsby also notes that, this interplay of an informal structure for the exercise of power, acquisition of status and allocation of benefits, encouraged official corruption in what appeared like plucking the fruits of independence to the benefit of family, friends and business partners.

2 Replies to “Pandora Papers: How the Kenyattas became billionaires from the ‘economy of affection’

  1. Mashujaa Day PART II: How the Kenyattas became billionaires from the ‘economy of affection’
    – are just great and very helpful.

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