– The saying ‘money is the root of all evil’ usually hits home hardest when it comes to succession battles
– Siblings turn against each other and forget the family bond they share for the sake of the inheritance at hand
– TUKO.co.ke shares a list of six succession wars that have been witnessed in Kenya, each for investments valued in billions
The script is always similar; the family patriarch spends his prime years creating wealth, he either dies or runs into twilight years, then his children fight over the wealth.
A few of the entities weather the storm and remain standing, but most have found themselves flat on the ground.
It is, perhaps the same story with Kenya as a country if you compare what Kibaki left and the economy we have now.
Kenyan economy aside, TUKO.co.ke shares a list of 10 business empires that have gone through turbulent times due to succession wars.
1. Mbugua Mwangi: Paradise Lost
In 2020, Mwangi, one of the sons to the late Mbugua Mwangi and Christine Mithiri Mbugua who founded Paradise Lost, took his brothers Isaac Gichia and Joseph Mbai to court.
Mwangi’s bone of contention was that his brothers had locked him out of running their flagship family company despite of being a director and a shareholder.
Mwangi also decried the fact that Paradise Lost generates KSh 50 million annually but the money is never deposited in the known company account.
The case is still ongoing.
2. Joram Kamau: Tuskys
It started in 1985 as a small retail chain in Nakuru called Magic, then changed names to Tusker Mattresses before settling on Tuskys.
After years of growing into a national supermarket, family woes drove the proverbial last nail in the retail chain’s coffin not long after the founder passed on in 2002.
From having four branches in its home town and several others spread across the country, Tuskys recently closed its doors to the last branch.
It still remains one of the saddest succession stories given how family wrangles brought the mammoth down.
3. Samwel Mburu: Jade Collection
Samwel Mburu’s grandchildren have filed a succession case against him, asking that they be included in the KSh 7 billion empire.
The case was filed at the Eldoret High Court by Kevin Wakaimba and Ivan Wakaimba, requesting Justice Stephen Githinji to compel their grandfather to include them in distribution of the vast wealth.
According to them, they merit part of the inheritance on behalf of their father Sammy who perished in a car accident 31 years ago.
It is the most current succession case, with the next hearing slated for July 19.
4. Gerishon Kirima
In 2013, the High Court nullified two Wills left behind by deceased Gerishon Kirima as a result of a succession tussle over his investments worthy KSh 100 billion.
The former Starehe MP had died three years earlier while undergoing treatment in Johannesburg, South Africa, leaving behind chaos as his children fought their step-mother Teresia Wairimu off the inheritance.
Justice Lenaola was forced to invalidate the two wills, both written in 2006 but one dated September 10 and another July 20, declaring that Kirima had died intestate.
5. Mbiyu Koinange
Mbiyu Koinange, who headed the ministry of State in the Office of the President from 1966 to 1979, died in September 1981, four women came forward asking to be granted control over his KSh 17.1 billion wealth.
Part of the investments included vast tracts of land in Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Mau Narok, as well as shares in blue chip companies like Centum, Ocean View Hotel Mombasa, and BAT Kenya among others.
High Court judge William Musyoka made two critical rulings in the highly contentious matter that had dragged for 35 years.
The first was that Margaret Njeri and Eddah Wanjiru, who had claimed to be the late Koinange’s widows, were imposters therefore ordered to return all the wealth they had gathered.
Secondly, Koinange’s estate was divided between his two wives Loise Mbiyu and Ruth Mbiyu, as well as their 10 children.
Spymaster James Kanyotu took to his grave top government secrets when he passed on in 2008 aged 70.
In the wake of his death, some of his own secrets came out as four women entered into a protracted battle over control of the KSh 20 billion estate he had left behind.
The contest was between his known wife Mary Wanjiku against Jane Gathoni, Margaret Nyakinya and Mercy Mumbi who, ostensibly, had children with the late sky chief.
With DNA tests confirming paternity of the children, the court ruled that three of the women share joint custody of the wealth.
The stories of grace to grass are testimony that business empires can only remain profitable if the successors not only stick to the founder’s vision but also remain united, minus greed over the wealth.
It also points to the need for oligarchs to create solid Wills that include every beneficiary in advance while still alive.
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