The billionaires who built Nairobi: the rise and misery of Charles Kirima in the last days

At the turn of the first decade of this century, the wealthy family of tycoon Gerishon Kirima found themselves in the headlines because of a bitter struggle over the distribution of their vast wealth.

At the time, Kirima was fragile due to her old age and only served as a spectator in the struggle over who should inherit her hard-earned wealth.

The fight presented a sad state of affairs for the billionaire who had worked hard since the mid-60s in an attempt to make his sunset life comfortable and hassle-free.

His journey began before the country gained independence when he moved to Nairobi in 1960 and opened a carpentry shop for his wife in Kayole. He was also a carpenter at the University of Nairobi.

Family members of the late Gerishon Kirima at the Milimani courthouse.

Daily nation

When the colonialists started to leave the country and the Indians closed their stores after 1963, Kirima was part of the frontiers of a new era of Kenyan entrepreneurs.

He opened several butchers and bars in the middle class areas that were previously the preserve of the Indian community. He quickly became one of the industry’s leading businessmen.

With the savings he had set aside, he bought huge plots of land in the city competing with the Kenyatta family as one of the main owners.

The tycoon bought 980 acres of land divided into three, 500 acres, 472 acres and 108 acres.

He began to breed domestic animals which he supplied to his butchers and bars. It is for this reason that he is described by many as the father of Nyama Choma.

Kirima also founded a bus service called Kirima Bus Service which operated over long distances, but was shut out in 1973 largely because of a directive from founding president Jomo Kenyatta.

After the directive, the native of Murang’a begged President Jomo Kenyatta to liberalize the meat market and allow the establishment of private slaughterhouses in the city. The founding president granted the request making Kirima the first black Kenyan to own a slaughterhouse.

It also continued to develop its real estate business fueled by the increased migration of people from rural areas to cities in search of a better life.

The tycoon built rentals across the city and subsequently ruled a housing empire which received monthly rental income of Ksh 20 million as of 2005.

With all of his businesses growing exponentially, he created a company known as Kirima and son which he used to run businesses ranging from real estate to meat producers and coffee farms.

Kirima is said to have subjected his children to coffee picking on his vast farms despite his wealth in an attempt to teach them the value of discipline and hard work even though he had no formal education.

In the early 2000s, when his health began to deteriorate, however, he was unable to take advantage of his wealth when his then-wife Terresia Wairimu clashed with his stepchildren over who should be in control. the domain.

The fallout was so severe that Wairimu once locked the mogul in his house and reinforced the cordon with steel welded into one of the main entrances. It took police intervention to save the tycoon.

In December 2010, Kirima died in a South African hospital while under treatment and the battle for his possessions raged until April 2014. It was not resolved until after the court intervened.

Milimani courthouse in Nairobi, pictured on November 18, 2019

Milimani courthouse in Nairobi, pictured on November 18, 2019

Simon kiragu

to fight

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