By Shifa Mwihaki
City politician Simon Mbugua has no heartburn revealing he was the illegitimate son of a
billionaire-inherited nothing-but rose to be a multi-millionaire in his own right.
His mother, a teacher, was the mpango wa kando to billionaire Samuel Mbugua Githere-the
illiterate man from Gachie who rose from hawking terere in Ngara to eyewatering fortunes that
included commercial buildings in Nairobi and Mombasa besides being the largest single
shareholder of Pan African Life Insurance.
It was not uncommon for Githere to appear in board meetings carrying wrapped cooked chicken
which he ate before fishing a comb from his inner coat pocket and running it through his hair!
Life was not easy being a billionaire’s illegitimate child. But Mbugua still rose from working as
a sweeper in a butchery, selling mitumba shoes to cars and on to being MP for Kamukunji.
In a 2019 interview with David Odongo, Mbugua recalled being beaten by his elder step-sister
when he went to Githere’s office at Uchumi House that June, 1996. Besides screamed
obscenities, “I was chased away like a dog” down seven floors in an incident from which he
swore he would never be poor.
“My mother was Githere’s mpango wa kando. He never married her but he was still my blood
father whom I first saw after finishing high school. But we never bonded,” recalled Mbugua. “I
was raised by a single mother. Despite being a billionaire, he never helped me in any way, and I
made my millions on my own.”
Mbugua’s other brother, Richard Githere, was also a loaded businessman and though “rejected
by our father and his family, we made it in life. God opened doors. I think we are far much better
than those who inherited their father’s billions. We worked for our money.”
Mbugua Githere died in 1997, and he was so rich his family couldn’t trace all his properties due
to lack of proper records, according to, A handful of Terere, the posthumous biography written
by the late novelist Mwangi Gicheru.
Simon Mbugua, now a father of three, recalled driving to Gachie to bury his dad and “I had just
bought a Mercedes from Kimani Wamatangi (now Kiambu Governor) and my step brothers
thought I had gone to fight for inheritance. The foodstuff I had brought to help with the funeral
were rudely thrown away and distributed to villagers. I told them I will be richer than my father.”
Journey to being wealthier than his father started with being a cleaner at a butchery in Highridge
Shopping Centre in a building owned by his father.
“I was earning Sh35 per day but saved Sh1050 by end month. I chilled in Gikomba with shoe
sellers most evenings and one time they sold left over shoes for Sh5 each. I bought shoes worth
Sh500, washed and polished them and rented a street space in Gikomba and resold each Sh20. I
made a profit of Sh 600 and never returned to the butchery again,” remembers Mbugua who
shortly began buying shoes in bales, instead of rejects.
“One bale cost Sh3, 500. So, I opened a shop selling the shoes, and got an employee to sell the
rejects. But shortly realized the bale cost Sh1, 500 in Mombasa. A year had passed since I started
selling shoes and I had saved Sh 200,000,” said Mbugua, adding that he hid the Sh200, 000 in his
underwear as “I was afraid majini would steal my money. Have you ever hidden Sh 200,000 in
your underwear? It’s very bulky and Mombasa is very hot.”
Mbugua bought 100 bales of shoes and former Finance CS Ukur Yatani, then in provincial
administration, helped him get a container and “I officially became a shoe whole seller” and on
to chair of hawkers in Gikomba.
Mbugua hit the financial Mother Lode when he began investing in real estate in between
supplying stones to City Hall which was how he got into politics.
“There was a time I was the Godfather at City Hall. I knew what was happening where and how,
and I made money,” said Mbugua, adding that his support base saw him running for the
Kamukunji Parliamentary seat with Norman Nyagah as the major opponent. “We really harassed
and beat up Nyagah. He couldn’t campaign anywhere and I won almost unopposed.”
Mbugua, who until recently was Kenya’s MP in the East African Legislative Council (EALA),
also paid homage to his mother who “lived in Eastlands until she died, happy knowing, a boy
who was rejected, made it in life. She guided me through all my business deals.”