A prominent Kiambu business tycoon John Kinuthia Makumi will be laid to rest today following his passing on December 5, aged 89.
Mr Kinuthia, alias Mr Money, was a self-made billionaire who dropped out of school at the age of 16 to try his hand at business. He started selling chicken, much to the amusement of his schoolmates.
Born in 1930 in Kabete, in the then Kiambu District, Kinuthia joined the billionaires’ club despite coming from a humble background and a limited education. The tycoon’s family attributes his fortune to sheer hard work and dedication, the Standard reports.
By the time he succumbed to a cardiac arrest, Kinuthia had accumulated property worth billions of shillings in Kiambu, Nairobi and across the East African Community.
His property portfolio includes the Lavington Mall, the upcoming Wangige Mall, a 200-acre farm in Loitoktok, Zadar Building in Wangige, and a building hosting Fountain Church near the Fig Tree in Ngara.
According to a report by the Standard, the tycoon controlled his vast empire from an office in Lavington and would retire to his palatial home in Rioki, Kiambu.
Kinuthia also earned himself a reputation as quite the family, setting himself apart from other polygamous billionaires whose families are usually embroiled in wrangles.
Mr Money managed to live with his two wives under one roof while keeping a close-knit family.
“As a good gesture of our relation, we have been staying together in one home for six months with my co-wife, with the children, and later shift to her home for the same period. That is how we strengthened the bond in our family,” said Agnes Waringa, one of Kinuthia’s widows.
According to his children, the tycoon was humble despite his billionaire status. He also preferred to drive himself and never liked flying even though he could easily afford a chopper.
“He was always ready to hit the road despite the long distances but never admired flying, perhaps that’s why he never owned a chopper while he could comfortably afford one,” recalled Lucy Wanjuhi Kinuthia[daughter] on Wednesday.
The tycoon also accorded his 15 children the best education including studying in universities overseas.
Another of his daughters, Wanjiku Kinuthia, unsuccessfully vied for the Kabete Constituency seat in the 2017 General Election.
“In everything that dad did, he strove to create a legacy through his work, his community and love for his country, family and friends,” she told the Standard.
The publication further reports that Kinuthia was known to be paranoid, with neighbours speaking of many roads leading to his home.
His neighbours reportedly painted a picture of a secretive man who never allowed strangers into his inner circle. When The Standard visited his home in the outskirts of Kiambu town, it was under tight security with two hawk-eyed armed policemen manning the gate.
Makumi will be buried on Friday at his Rioki village home.