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Mwangi Thuita: The Class Seven Dropout Who Chaired The Troubled Embakasi Ranching Company

By Prudence Minayo

Mwangi Thuita was a man of many contradictions. Some would come to know him as a charitable man while others as a ruthless adversary. He gave as much as he got and when former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu eulogized him, he partly said: 

“In fact, I hardly believe that I am here to bury him. I had conceptualized him as immortal….but now he is dead, it serves to remind us that we are all mortals.”

Here is his story as told by WoK

The Beginning

Thuita quit formal education in Class Seven, opting to become a trader instead. He hustled like any other man trying to stay afloat and in 1969, relocated to Nairobi from his rural home. After trying a couple of businesses, he settled on being a land broker. By this time, he had  gained political connections which he used to his advantage. 

Embakasi Ranching Company

As his popularity soared, he was elected chairman of the Embakasi Ranching Community. This position earned many rivals who unsuccessfully tried to dethrone him. In 2011, the late former Nairobi Mayor, Dickson Waweru vied for the position and people were sure he would finally lose the chairmanship.  Waweru was shocked to receive court documents saying his campaign was unlawful since Mr. Thuita was to hold office until 2014. 

Sensing his power was on the verge of ending, he began befriending the welfare leaders. Before anyone could notice, the once vibrant welfare was a shell of its former glory. Vocal leaders had switched allegiance to Thuita’s camp. 

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“I came to realize that Mr.Thuita had designed a formula to be the chairman for life,” said Dickson Waweru. 

He controlled about 40,000 declared acres even as shareholders who wrote to the Ministry of Lands said their property extended to about 100,000 acres. 

Court Cases

A number of court cases were filed against him. In 2017, several officials in the land buying business were murdered forcing him to tighten security around him. He increased his bodyguards to 50.

In January 2018, it seemed he would finally be dispossessed of his position. A delegation to president Uhuru Kenyatta decried the evils that had befallen the ranch. Shareholders had reportedly lost land through double allocation, deletion from the register racket and swapping. The president promised to dismantle the ranch by February 1, 2018 and issue title deeds to all shareholders.

Joseph Njenga told Business Daily that, in front of the public, he seemed to be in agreement with the president but was working against this move behind closed doors. He refused to waive off survey and titling fees as ordered by State House. According to Joseph, he imposed levies that would enable his board to get Sh337 million as a send-off package. 

President intervention

The president also ordered that the technical office handling the disbandment be issued an office in the ranch’s Ruai headquarters. The late chairman said he didn’t have the shareholders register as it had been seized by the anti Corruption Commission in 2012. On 31st May, the president was to give him a three months ultimatum to ensure he cooperates with ministry officials.  Instead, he began looking for a way to hold the yearly general meeting so he could extend his term to 2021. Unfortunately, he passed away quietly on 29th June after leaving a government function. 

According to Nation, he had built himself a bar in Ruai with a single room at the back. It was here that he collapsed and died. 

Apart from the land business, he had other interests including in hospitality.