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Did You Know Who The First Kenyan To Own A Clothing Supermarket? The Story Of Kariuki Njiiri

  • Kariuki Njiiri is the first Kenyan to own a clothing supermarket in Kenya
  • His father was senior chief Njiiri wa Karanja, one of the richest man in Central Kenya

Post independence Kenya gave an opportunity for Kenyans to try their hand in businesses that were erstwhile controlled by Whites and Indians. 

Kariuki Njiiri made history as the first Kenyan to own an African clothing supermarket ‘Njiiris Stores’ that stocked popular brands like Dash. 

Here is his story as told by WoK,

Kariuki Njiiri Education

The then powerful politician attended Kenya Training Teacher’s College in Githunguri and later on Lincoln University, USA for his BA and MA. 

Kariuki Njiiri Career

After his return, he became an education officer in 1958. He is credited with founding Kenya Children’s Library, the Kikuyu Welfare Association and the Kenya Education Trust. 

The former Kigumo MP also served on the Board of Governors of Njiiris High School, an institution named after his father. 

Kariuki Njiiri’s Parents

His father was senior chief Njiiri wa Karanja who was the richest man in Central Kenya. He was so rich that his children were chauffeured to school in a Land Rover in the 1950s.

The dreaded chief who was loved by the colonial powers and loathed by the Mau Mau, owned a transistor radio-a rarity then-the only one with a 1,000 radius. 

According to media reports, he hived a near whole location in Murang’a County known as Kinyona.

The wealthy senior chief had 5,000 goats, 4,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle.

Political Life 

His name was etched in the Kenyan history books when he gave up his seat for Jomo Kenyatta. This paved his way into parliament making it possible for the founding father of the republic of Kenya to attend the Lancaster House Conference in London which ushered our independence.

With this sacrifice, he became a powerful post-independence Kanu power broker. He went on to serve as Kigumo MP and assistant minister for local government in 1964.

Owning Njiiris Stores

The family operated the Njiiris Stores. Kariuki Njiiri wife Ruth Stutts Njiiri ran the high retail clothing store. She also doubled as Mzee Jomo Kenyatta private secretary alongside Jemimah Gecaga, grandmother of former president Uhuru Kenyatta PA, John Gecaga. 

Kariuki met his wife while he was in the US studying.

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