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Sweet inheritance: How to share daddy’s billions…bila stress!

Former Miss Tourism Debra Sanaipei got a house in London, property in Lavington, over 180 acres and Sh8 million in shares

Iron tight will: George Njoroge with a portrait of Hon William ole Ntimama whom he claimed was his father. Njoroge was not part the Will which decreed that Ntimama’s children were never to sell the Sh2 billion inheritance he left them or take each other to court over the same.

 By GW Ngari


 It pays off big time choosing the right ancestors, for real. Just ask former Miss Tourism Kenya, Debra Sanaipei, who hit the Mother Lode with her late father’s estate.

Of course, you know her Old Guy: William ole Ntimama, the long-serving politician who died in 2016 and was survived by one wife, seven children and Sh2 billion in property, real estate and Sh112 million worth of shares.

Ntimama, 88, died of natural causes at his Matonyi home, Narok County.

He left a curious Will written in April 2015: None of the beneficiaries were to sell their inheritance to outsiders in part or whole. Rather, they were to hold and pass over the hundreds of acres, houses and buildings to their children in an endless chain down the generations.

Sanaipei inherited 50 percent of her daddy’s London property. Her mother, Dorcas Ntimama and youngest daughter Vivian Ntimama shared the other half at 25 percent a piece. Unfortunately Vivian, 40, collapsed and died in her bathroom this February. Her share will thus go to her three children, Teiyaa Muthoni, Sameri Kimani and Kesilet Matu.

Sanaipei also inherited 183.5 acres in Mara and a property in Lavington, Nairobi.  Of the Sh112 million worth of Britam Shares, Ntimama left his wife 50 percent with the seven siblings sharing the remaining spoils equally. That means Sanaipei has Sh8 million worth of Britam shares.

Ntimama’s Will also provided latitude for beneficiaries, who included his grandchildren, to decline any shares he bequeathed them without interfering with the inheritance of others.

It will be interesting to see how Ntimama’s Will plays out in Kenya where children of the wealthiest are shredding each other over inheritance

The Will forbade beneficiaries from resorting to court battles over inheritance, and instead, Ntimama appointed Anglican Bishop Jackson ole Sapit and Rev Peter Nakola as arbitrators.

The late Vivian shared with her mother 50 percent of the family home in Muthangari, Lavington. Her mother was bequeathed 352 acres, transferable to Vivian if the mother died first. Vivian’s share of the house and hundreds of acres will now go to her kids as well.

Thanks daddy: Former beauty queen Debra Sanaipei has her future laid out like a catwalk.

Ntimama’s other sons and grandchildren were also given hundreds of acres with Sanau, Timothy and granddaughter Terry Ann Ntimama equally sharing out Maa Towers in Narok town.

It will be interesting to see how Ntimama’s Will plays out in a country where children of Kenya’s wealthiest are shredding each other over inheritance. For instance, Wanja Michuki sued her siblings demanding Sh1 billion of her late father, Cabinet Minister John Michuki’s, Sh10 billion fortune.

Kenyans have also been following the inheritance tiffs involving the billions left by former politicians Njenga Karume, Gerishon Kirima and Mbiyu Koinange, former spymaster James Kanyotu and hoteliers Stephen Kung’u, John Kagema and James Mwangi ‘Kahama’.

Kung’u owned the famous Kunste Hotel in Nakuru, Kagema, the founding CEO of Equity bank, held interests in Enashipai Resort and Spa in Naivasha while Mwangi owned the Kahama Hotels of which K1 Club House in Parklands Nairobi is part.

It is not just miros as even muhindis have not been left behind, if you throw in the sons of billionaire Abdul Karim Popat whose family owns the Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi. Elder son Azim inherited Sh 820 million but was bitter that younger brother, Adil Popat got over Sh2.5 billion in a case involving properties  straddling six continents besides bank accounts  in Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, Dubai and Guernsey.

The wealthy fight over inheritance as most patriarchs hardly involve spouses and children in how they baked the family bread

Home sweet home: The Ntimama’s family home in Lavington Nairobi was bequeathed to his wife Dorcas and last born Vivian who died this February and her share went to her three kids.

How come some families; the Kenyattas and the Ndegwas, rich in real coin hardly fought over inheritance, but multiplied wealth long after Jomo Kenyatta and Philip Ndegwa’s deaths?

Well, there are a litany of reasons why children of the rich fight over daddy’s billions.

The culture of spending, for one, socializes people into consumption and eminent economist X.N. Iraki argues that “even children who have never earned a coin know how to spend” and that “we spend little time learning how money is made, the stuff of entrepreneurship” and inheritance thus becomes the easiest route to Easy Street.

Frank Sabwa, a city financial consultant, once explained that the wealthy fight over inheritance as most patriarchs hardly involve spouses and children in how they baked the family bread. Instead, most take pride and subconsciously “use their money to shield children or spouses from hard work, and when they die, the children are left with wealth but zero management skills.” 

Sabwa reckoned that families without inheritance drama are those where children were involved in family business as kids and worked their way up to the corner office.

Children of the wealthy also suffer from ‘upper-class socialization’ according to University of Nairobi sociologist Ken Ouko. He once argued that these children, born with silver spoons are infected with chronic economic laziness blended with a lofty presumptive attitude about access to the goodies of life without investing in any effort.

Wanna get my share: Wanja Michuki, daughter of Cabinet Minister John Michuki sued her siblings demanding her Sh1 billion inheritance. Ntimama’s Will forestalled court disputes.

Children born in the upper crust of society, offered Ouko, suffer from ‘productive lethargy’, and thus remain stagnant in personal development, while appearing outwardly well-off, but inside “are empty shells devoid of any individual initiative paving way to individualistic economic independence.”

Ouko also blames the wealthy for failed parenting as on their way to making the millions, “most are often absentee parents whose children get the best in the hands of well-paid nannies within such socially-sanitized environments most have no clue how the other half lives.”

Ouko charged that such children end up “lacking in individualism and their survival instincts are acutely numbed by a rock-star lifestyle whose cost they have no idea about” and are left with money and property they had no hand in generating and thus, their preoccupation is largely spending, not multiplying.

The many women opting for single motherhood only fuels inheritance dramas as its good old Papa’s money to the rescue

Ouko concludes that while wealthy parents go overboard to ensure the brood lacks for nothing, their good intentions come to grief through “raising lazy, spoilt and self-centred brats who think everything can be sorted out using their fathers’ money. These are the types who end up fighting over wealth they didn’t have a hand in creating.” 

The other powder keg to inheritance fires, is lack of a written Will according to a 2019 survey, Attitudes to Inheritance in Kenya, by Enwealth Financial Services. The survey revealed that 60 percent of Kenyans have no succession plan despite 80 percent knowing the importance of a Will. Six out of 10 Kenyans thus rely on next of kin nominations, verbal declarations or confiding in one family member- mostly a favourite child, the first wife or business associate.

Kanyingi left a Sh2 billion estate with Trustees mandated to manage his portfolio for 40 years

Mr Moneybags: Hon Kuria Kanyingi warned his 10 children whoever fought over inheritance in court lost their share. His cars were never to be inherited, but sold, money shared equally.

The 2010 Constitution also allowed women to inherit property which was not the case before and hence the rise in court battles from those seeking a piece of the action, think Wanja Michuki. The many women opting for single motherhood only fuels inheritance dramas as its good old Papa’s money to the rescue.

Ntimama well-crafted Will might avert the embarrassing court battles children of the wealthy subject their families as did the Will of the late politician Kuria Kanyingi: The former MP for Limuru decreed that any beneficiary who contested his Will lost the inheritance.

Kanyingi, one-time Kenya’s Mr Moneybags succumbed to cancer in 2014 at 71. He left a Sh2 billion estate with a pastor, an accountant and a lawyer as Trustees mandated to manage his portfolio of real estate and properties for 40 years.

They were also to oversee distribution of inheritance to his two wives and 10 children. But the land where his mother’s homestead and burial site stand, is never to be sold no matter how much money was offered and should be retained “for generations to come as monuments.”

His wives, Jerioth Wangui and Susan Wangu received 1.7 acres each and all his shares in two different companies. Wangu received a house in South Africa with her children besides the children sharing out money in bank accounts and properties in Limuru town, Kilimani and Lavington besides shares held in Barclays (Absa), KCB, Stanchart, NIC (now NCBA), Centum, Olympia Capital and Rea Vipingo.

However, his cars including, a Toyota NZE and Range Rover were to be sold only to outsiders and not family members and money realized shared equally between the families and that his children were also to “listen to and respect their mothers.”

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