By Prudence Minayo
Gerishon Kirima’s exemplifies the classic rags to riches story; a young man who dropped out of school, moved to Nairobi where he went on to become a powerful businessman and politician.
However, in his twilight years, he was making headlines after it was reported that his wife had imprisoned him at their Kitisuru home. During that period, he remained inaccessible to friends and family. To free the businessman, police had to break three doors, including one that was grilled.
According to The Standard, Kirima’s feet were swollen when he was released from his ‘prison’ and could not fit into loafers. He emotionally hugged his grandchildren mumbling that he was going to die. His third wife Teresia was accused of imprisoning the late businessman. He passed away on December 28, 2010, in South Africa.
The late businessman was born in Kiruri, Murang’a county during the colonial period. He left his home for Kinangop where he established a carpentry business. Later, he moved to Nairobi and opened a carpentry business at Nairobi University which at the time, was referred to as Royal College.
Kirima settled in Kaloleni where his first wife Agnes Waruguru helped out with the selling of furniture. In 1960, the state of emergency ended and a lot of Kenyans moved to urban centres. Gerishon took advantage of the opportunity and opened butcheries and bars targeting the Africans’ who now had money.
When Asians were closing their businesses, he was among the entrepreneurs who greatly benefitted. By 1967, he was heavily into real estate. Surprising many, he bought 500 acres of land in Nairobi. This would be followed by 108 acres and then another 472 acres.
His business empire grew massively and so did his political power.
Kirima was among the first Kenyans to supply meat in Nairobi, an opportunity that had exclusively been held by the Kenya Meat Commission. He would later become chairman of the African Butchers Association. Around this time, he started the short-lived Kirima Bus Company. He wound up operations in the transport business and focused on real estate.
Kirima began his career as an elected councillor in Nairobi. He later became deputy mayor.
In 1989, then Starehe MP Kirubi Kihondo had a fallout with KANU and was removed from the party. A by-election was held and Kirima was successfully elected on a KANU ticket. During this time, he served as Assistant Minister in the late President Daniel Moi government.
In the 1992 general elections, Kirima lost his Starehe seat to Kihondo.
He had also served as chairman of Nairobi and set up brigades to secure city bus stops.
Kirima gained substantial wealth and established rental houses in various parts of the country. He also lived in a magnificent structure in Kitisuru and had other personal properties. It would be reported that the properties were worth about ksh750 million.
His rental properties reportedly brought in millions each month. He ran a housing empire that collected a monthly rental income of Ksh20 million as of 2005.
With all his businesses growing exponentially, he set up a company known as Kirima & Sons which he used to manage the businesses ranging from real estate to meat producer and coffee farms.
Unfortunately, the late Kirima would witness as drama unfolded over the management of his wealth. Family members would begin a battle for the properties which would result in publicized drama.
After long court battles, the disputes were resolved in 2013.
“Teresia Wairimu (widow) and Anne Kirima (daughter) shall be the co-administrators of the estate and shall move with haste and conclude distribution of the estate,” ruled justice Isaac Lenaola.
Among the court’s stipulations was that Njiru and Kariobangi estates be distributed among the 25 beneficiaries.
Kirima had three wives, several children, and grandchildren. Some of his children are Gerald, Gabriel, Waruguru, Wairimu, Charlotte and Ruthie.
The businessman breathed his last on December 28, 2010, while undergoing treatment in South Africa. At the time, he was reportedly had suffered from acute blindness and diabetes.