The Sultan of Mombasa, Governor Ali Hassan Joho, over the weekend attempted to demystify the contentious source of his vast wealth.
In an interview with Churchill Show host Daniel Ndambuki, Joho revealed that his entrepreneurial journey started at a young age, having been raised by a single mother in a small house in Majengo informal settlements.
After his parents’ separation, Joho lived with his mother, grandmother, aunt and cousins. He said his grandmother was a tailor who inspired his entrepreneurial spirit.
“My late grandmother used to make vitumbua every afternoon. So she prepares it through the night and actually make it at around 3 p.m. I would help hawk them and that’s where I became a really good sales person,” he narrated.
Joho would continue his entrepreneurial journey in secondary school, working part-time at the Old Port where he used to load and offload scrap metals from trucks.
“It was a really menial job and I looked like a gym fanatic but it was because of the hard labor carrying those loads. It was here that I learnt how to import and clear and the documents you needed to have,” explained Joho.
The Mombasa county boss disclosed that he became a millionaire at the age of 20 from the clearing and forwarding business.
“Somalia at the time was just getting into a war so many people came through the sea and they would import things they left through the port. My brother connected with these people and I convinced them to become their sales agent. My biggest cheque was Sh6.6 million at the age of twenty years,” Joho said.
In a past interview, the governor said the windfall changed his life as he invested the money in diverse businesses.
“My first transaction that changed my life was when I was just 20 years old. I remember I got a clearing and forwarding job and I got a Sh6.6 million cheque. That is the first money that I saw and I was like ‘this is it’,” Joho said last year.
On allegations that he made his money from narcotics business, Joho said: “Ten years down the line if there was some truth, some kind of action would have been taken. You can’t try to build on a narrative for 10 years that has no end.”
In the interview with Ndambuki, Joho also spoke about his recent viral video of himself singing the song ‘Katerina’ by Rwandan singer Bruce Melodie.
“Imeniletea shida wacha tu. Hata naogopa huo wimbo sasa. Nilikuwa ninaimba kwa raha zangu. ‘I wanna look at you baby kidogo eeh’” he said.
Adding: “The point is people must understand that even when you are a leader you have a life. You can do official work, like today I went to launch the water project, after that I went to oversee some distribution that we are doing for the vulnerable families. What is wrong with I spend 2 minutes to enjoy music? I am still human and I’m allowed to enjoy and live life. I don’t work 24/7 I do what I need to do and then I also have to find time for myself nianze kuimba nyimbo za akina Susumila”