Obituary

Simeon Nyachae: One of 100 children, loved classy Kikuyu women!

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his dad was the first Kisii to own cars, grow coffee

Master and Commander: The late Simeon Nyachae married pedigree women from prominent Kikuyu families. Some of his children have followed suit, marrying into the Kenyattas. So when President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Judy Nyachae and Kennedy Nyachae to the boards of Export Processing Zone and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority in 2015, respectively, he was rewarding in-laws!

By Undercover Reporter

He had a soft spot for Kikuyu women. Of his five wives-who gave him 20 children-two were from Mt Kenya: One, the sister of a Cabinet Minister’s wife, the other a soldier’s daughter from the Koinange family he married when she was only 19-and who went on to secure the family its billions.

Simeon Nyachae, the temperamental workaholic who closed his gate at Nairobi Hospital aged 88, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. By 1943 when Nyachae was 11, his Old Guy, colonial Chief Musa Nyandusi had two cars; a Fordson and Chevrolet Sedan, the first Kisii to own such.

Chief Nyandusi had a head start. Chief’s had easy access to free government land,  better seedlings,  lucrative business and travel permits and scholarships for their children-of which Nyachae was one of over 100 kids from a chama of 15 breathing wives.

So many were the kids Chief Nyandusi opened his own school for them with Nyachae as the favourite of the 100 children

Paths of glory:  Grace Wamuyu, a scion of the Koinanges, was Nyachae’s fifth wife. She had been transferred from the Office of President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta where she was a secretary to the Provincial headquarters in Nyeri where Nyachae was PC. They married in 1971. She was 19. He was 39. They sired four kids including the well-known Wanjiku Nyachae and Lee Nyachae of Lee Construction.


So many were the kids that Chief Nyandusi opened his own school for them with Nyachae as the favourite of the 100 children: he tinkered with Nyachae’s birth certificate backdating it three years to secure his scholarship to Cambridge University, England, set him in bakery and flour milling businesses and forced him to marry three wives while still in his 20s.

Chief Nyandusi, a friend of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, also schemed Nyachae’s entry into government upon his return from studying Public Administration in 1964. In fact, Nyachae was handed his  letter of appointment as Nyandarua District Commissioner (DC) at the Embakasi Airport, then the largest in 1964.

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Nyachae was adding wives too. After third wife Martha Mwango, sister of Cabinet Minister Lawrence Sagini- a step-brother of former PS Dr Bitange Ndemo, he married Sylvia, sister of Jane Kiano, wife of Minister for Commerce and Industry Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano. They divorced seven years and three kids later.

Forays into milling was no fluke. Chief Nyandusi –the first Kisii allowed to grow coffee-owned water operated flour mills

Windmill of the Gods: Forays into milling was no fluke. Chief Nyandusi –the first Kisii allowed to grow coffee-also opened water operated flour mills known as ‘chitinga cha Musa’ (Musa’s posho mills) while his Old Lady, Paulina Bosibori, a workaholic disciplinarian and staunch Adventist, sold cereals in Kisii. It’s with an easy transition that Nyachae-with family’s financial backing- would follow the family grain in milling; opening Sansora Bakery at Nyantunango Market, long before Kenya’s independence, using metal drums and an oven which gradually birthed Sansora Oil Mills, the defunct Swan Millers and Sansora Farm in Mau Narok, which he acquired at the height of land acquisition frenzy from departing mzungus at independence.

Grace Wamuyu, the youngest wife, left government in 1980 to run Sansora Group (named after Nyachae’s grandpa who was a sansora-arbiter). Sansora is the holding arm of the family’s hydra of business interests sweeping across banking, insurance, horticulture, aviation, real estate, flour milling, transport logistics and large-scale agriculture including coffee farming-despite Nyachae never drinking coffee-the side effects of strong Adventist faith.

Just so you know Nyachae means ‘one who comes with tea’ since he was born in 1932-when tea as a crop was introduced in Kisii.

The Sansora Group flourished just as Nyachae rose from PC to Chief Secretary, the most visible and crucial  civil servant of his time: woke up at 5am and ate lunch in the office which he left at 7pm. For leisure, he had a squash court in his house.

But President Daniel arap Moi  (Nyachae’s partner in two businesses including Transnational bank) wanted to get rid of Kenyatta-era bureaucrats and devised a clever ploy: lowering retirement from 60 to 55. Nyachae retired in 1987. He was 55. When all Kenyatta henchmen retired Moi reverted retirement age to 60!

As a ‘thank you gift’ to himself, Nyachae imported a custom-made navy blue Mercedes Benz S500

Money never sleeps: The Nyachae family has controlling stake at Credit bank, where Wamuyu is a director while his 8.6 million shares at NCBA are worth over Sh300 million besides stakes in Prime bank, Diamond Trust bank, I&M bank, Transnational (now Access bank), Paper House of Kenya, Sotik Tea estate, Simbi Roses and Kenindia Assurance. The face of Nyachae’s businesses, however, is Kabansora, big time players in wheat and flour milling.

As a ‘thank you gift’ to himself, Nyachae imported a custom-made navy blue Mercedes Benz S500-the first of its kind in Kenya. Big mistake. At the time, President Moi rode in a Mercedes Benz S600. He was not to have any competition in that department.

Port officials in Mombasa feared clearing Nyachae’s S500. The Benz was shortly impounded as investigators began digging on who had the balls of going bonnet to bonnet with President Moi.

Plans were hatched to cut Nyachae down to size. Investigators combed and found nothing amiss with tax returns of Kabansora Millers, then and still is located in Embakasi, Nairobi.  So they came up with a cock and bull story about how the maize flour at Kabansora was attracting birds which could get into aircraft engines at the nearby JKIA. Kabansora was thus to be demolished!

Raila promised to endorse Nyachae for the Presidency in 2002, but instead said ‘Kibaki Tosha’

The hurt locker: A family friend after viewing the remains of Simeon Nyachae at Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi. Nyachae had been preceded in death by his father- who had served as chief for 30 years with two British medals for ‘services to the Crown’ to show for it- died of cancer in 1970. His elder brother Senior Chief James Oiruria  in 2007 and their mother in 2009 at 94.

“It was then that I decided to join elective politics to protect my interests,” notes Nyachae in his threadbare 2010 memoirs, Walking Through Corridors of Service.
Nyachae, last of two boys was elected MP for Nyaribari Chache in the first multiparty elections in 1992. He held key government dockets including agriculture and finance besides a presidential run that came to grief in 2002-when Raila Odinga promised to endorse him but instead said ‘Kibaki Tosha’. Nyachae lost the Nyaribari Chache seat in 2007 and faded from public limelight until his death on February 1, 2021.

Kennedy Nyachae is married to Nominated Senator Beth Mugo’s daughter

Father Abraham: Like his father, Simeon Nyachae was a polygamist. Among his children includes the eldest, Charles Nyachae (above), a UK-trained lawyer and former chair of the Constitution Implementation Commission. Joseph Nyandusi, a lecturer at West Virginia University), Leon and Moses Nyandusi, an architect and accountant in England respectively. Then there is Angela, Esther, Eric, Pauline and engineer Lee Nyachae (of Lee Construction) and lawyer Michael Nyachae.

The Nyachaes’ have long enjoyed political patronage since Chief Nyandusi hid Mzee Jomo Kenyatta from colonial authorities in 1952. They also connected via intermarriages. Kennedy Nyachae is married to Nominated Senator Beth Mugo’s daughter. Beth Mugo, former Dagoretti South MP, is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cousin.

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