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How harassment by government forces ‘dynasties’ to join politics

By Mbugua Ngunjiri

In 2021, when the Pandora Papers ‘scandal’ broke, Kenyans learnt that the Kenyatta family has stashed funds in foreign accounts. Now, there are a number of reasons why certain people chose to spirit their monies in those tax havens. Chief among the reasons such people hide their money, whether clean or dirty, in secret accounts, in my view, is security.

Patriotism comes later.

On Friday, July 21, an angry Uhuru Kenyatta was on TV complaining bitterly that William Ruto’s government was targeting his family. This was after it was reported that police officers had raided one of his son’s home in Karen, ostensibly to search for ‘illegal firearms’.

During the media interview, the retired president challenged Ruto to ‘come for him’ and leave his 90-year-old mother alone. A few days earlier, it had been reported that Mama Ngina Kenyatta’s security had been withdrawn.

Uhuru said he is capable of ‘protecting’ his family’s property. Well, your guess is as good as mine, where he would take his money should harassment by government persisted.

It should be remembered that a few months back, goons suspected to have been funded by the Kenya Kwanza regime, raided Northlands Farm, owned by the Kenyatta family, stole sheep and set trees on fire.

Kenyan politics is replete with examples similar harassment. I will use the late Simeon Nyachae’s example to illustrate my point. In his book, Walking Through the Corridors of Service (Mvule, 2010), Nyachae says that he entered politics to protect his property.

Now, let that sink for a bit.

When he retired from the civil service in 1987, upon attaining the age of 55, Nyachae was already a successful businessman. “…my intention was to go into farming and to concentrate on my other businesses… I had no intention whatsoever to join politics,” he wrote.

Moi’s government meanwhile, had other plans; they wove a narrative to the effect that Nyachae was ‘a dangerous rich man, who wanted to dominate the Gusii community and Kenya.’ A sinister plot was then hatched to cut him down to size, beginning with his vast business empire. To begin with, public health officials would be dispatched, almost on a daily basis, to his Sansora Bakery with bogus allegations that it was operating under unhygienic conditions.

It also became increasingly difficult for him to import spare parts for his Kabansora Flour Mills, which had to be sourced from Germany. He had to find a way round it. “The supplier would send the parts to the German Embassy, in Nairobi, as samples, and then we would collect them for our own use,” wrote Nyachae.

At the time of his retirement Nyachae decided to reward himself by importing a brand new Mercedes 500. That is where his problems started.

When the vehicle arrived at the Mombasa Port, he was told, flat out, that it could not be cleared into the country. When his son Charles Nyachae went to ascertain what the fuss was all about “a customs official told him that the car I had imported would not be cleared because nobody in the country was ‘allowed’ to import a car that big, unless he or she wanted to have powers like those of the president!”

He had to go to court to have the car released. When it was finally released, seven months later, the Mercedes Benz had been so badly vandalised, he had to order for new parts from Germany. “This experience heightened the pressure from my friends that I should join politics to defend my investments,” wrote Nyachae.

The kamati was not yet through with him; they sent thugs to throw a dead rat into the compound of Kabansora Mills, in Embakasi, in the dead of night. The following morning health officials demanded to allowed into the compound to conduct an ‘inspection’. Once inside they made a beeline to where the dead rat had been thrown. The goal was to close down the premises under the pretext that the whole place was infested with rats, and that consumers of his products risked being infected with plague!

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Seeing as the harassment was not about to die down, Nyachae decided to go to parliament “and fight against the injustices meted out against individuals and groups who were not singing to the tune of the ruling party Kanu.”

There was one more roadblock waiting around the corner. At the time, Kenya was ruled by a single party, Kanu. To contest for any political seat, one had to be a member of the ruling party. Try as he could, Nyachae’s name could not be cleared by Kanu for the 1988 elections, which broke so many records for rigging. Mnasemanga rigging, the 1988 mlolongo elections were not only the mother and father of rigging, they were also the grandparents and ancestors of modern day rigging!

Nyachae got to parliament in 1992, ironically, on a Kanu ticket.

The late Njenga Karume, in his book, From Charcoal to Gold, also gave the same reasons as Nyachae, for entering into politics; to protect his property.

At his prime, the late Kenneth Matiba, another former civil servant, was said to be one of the richest men in Kenya. However, a tumble with Moi’s government, not only left him severely incapacitated, health wise, but at the time of his death, Matiba was stone broke.

Now, had someone advised him to hide some of his money in the Cayman Islands, or some other tax havens, his descendants would still be doing fine.

Now, based on what happened to Uhuru’s son, on Friday, would you blame him for joining politics to ‘protect’ his property or that of his family?

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Uhuru Kenyatta’s art gift for George Bush

While President Uhuru Kenyatta was visiting the US, greater focus was, understandably, on the details of the trade talks as well as the fact that Kenya was trying to mend fences with Barrack Obama’s (Cousin Barry to some Kenyans) country, seeing as America’s ‘Choices have Consequences’ edict, in reference to Uhuru’s ICC case,  had pulled the two countries apart.

Focus was to later dramatically shift to President Kagame’s daughter (you know how that one went). Much later Uhuru was pictured in a Stetson – here in Kenya we call the godfather or godpapa – holding somewhat oversized American cowboy boots – gifts he was given by Texas cowboys, who also made him an honorary citizen. Although he eventually did visit George Bush Jnr – he of ‘you are either with us or the enemy’ – not much was said about a piece of ‘cloth’ the two were pictured holding.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and George Bush holding the painting.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and George Bush holding the painting.


Well, that piece of cloth was a painting Uhuru donated the former US president – don’t ask how they came to know each other, I don’t know either. Turns out the Uhuru appreciates art – Kenyan art to be specific – that he considered it important enough to give it to a former US president as a gift.

Patrick Kinuthia's painting  Si Hoja.
Patrick Kinuthia’s painting Si Hoja.

I did a little digging and realised that the painting is titled Ni hoja, lakini sio hoja (It is an issue but not an issue) – confusing huh? Well that is what artists do sometimes; confuse people – done by Patrick Kinuthia.


The painting, an acrylic on canvas, measuring 100 by 150 cm, features a couple standing before a group of women in an open air market. From the picture, it would appear like the man is trying to tell the woman, with baby strapped on her back something. The woman is either ignoring the man or is pretending not to hear.

From the picture is not clear whether the man and woman are a couple or not. Curiously though the man is clutching a package with the letters VCT clearly written on it. Could it be that the couple have just from a VCT centre? Who between, the man and the woman is saying the words ni hoja, lakini sio hoja? More importantly, why would they chose to have such a conversation in a public place.

Banana Hill-based artist Patrick Kinuthia.
Banana Hill-based artist Patrick Kinuthia.

Still, could the man be a health worker trying to convince the women in a market place to go and have their HIV statuses checked? Questions, questions and more questions. Incidentally, that is what a good artist is supposed to do; provoke your mind into thinking. And as they say, you take what you see in a piece of art. Hopefully, George Bush will have his own interpretation if he hangs the painting in his office.

William Ndwiga, the director of The Little Art Gallery says he received a call from the Kenyan ambassador to the US, asking for a ‘high value painting that can be displayed in a museum in the USA, for posterity’. He disclosed that the piece of art was bought for sh350,000 (approx 4,000 usd). “I see The Little Art Gallery running Art exhibitions by Kenyans in Kenyan embassies, around the world, to showcase what Kenya has to offer to the world. I have already started this process,” explains Ndwiga.

William Ndwiga, projects coordinator, The Little Art Gallery.
William Ndwiga, projects coordinator, The Little Art Gallery.

Kinuthia’s bio says his paintings ‘reflect both a freestyle approach as well as a disciplined observer of human and animal form behaviour’. Born in 1967, Kinuthia worked for Citizens Cinema Cooperation as a poster artist for its cinema halls, making scenery and portraits under the tutelage of Pakistani artist Mohammed Rafiq. Kinuthia is based in Banana Hill.