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President Uhuru, Governor Kidero Honor 104-Year-Old Pioneer Businessman with 'Keys to the City'

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero on Saturday honored pioneer businessman Gerald Gikonyo with ‘Keys to the City’.

The ceremony was held at State House, Nairobi to honor the chairman and founding member of the multi-billion shilling Rwathia Group, a conglomerate of numerous companies that has employed over 100,000 Kenyans.

Mr Gikonyo, who hails from Rwathia in Murang’a County, ventured into business in 1931 in Nairobi, having arrived in the city just a few years prior. He started off with a vegetable hawking business and with the savings from that business and partnership with a friend he managed to open a hotel in Majengo, followed by a second one in Eastleigh. 

Being an African during that colonial period, Mr Gikonyo, now 104 years old, was relegated to investing in the Eastlands area of Nairobi. After independence Mr Gikonyo and his partners expanded their empire, which today is composed of at least 50 businesses. Some of their businesses in downtown Nairobi include Magomano Hotel, New Kinangop Hotel, Timboroa Hotel, Alfa Hotel. The group also own Rwathia Distributors.

His early fortune would seen Mr Gikonyo become the first African to own a car in Kenya, which he says he co-bought with a friend for Sh300.

In honoring Mr Gikonyo, President Uhuru said “ Mzee Gikonyo and his generation are the ones who changed Nairobi from being a city of wazungu to a city of Africans.” He said the history of such men and women must never been forgotten, and urged the younger generation to learn the value of hard work and determination from the man.

Kidero held a similar ceremony for Mr  Gikonyo on April 6th at City Hall.

With the Keys to the City honor , Mr Gikonyo will enjoy benefits such as free parking for his fleet of vehicles and have a street named after him.


The people of Rwathia village started as shareholders. But what happened to the shares they owned. I never heard they were bought out. I remember as a young boy my uncle used to bring a sac full of envelops to be distributed to the shareholders of Rwathia village and i distributed a lot of those envelopes each with a name of the shareholder, then the source went dry. This was in the early 1980s. Most of the shareholders are eventually dead and their families never knew they owned anything/ Shares. The head of the companies after the death of the shareholders took over and never distributed the company money afterwards. As you can see most of us kenyans dont know anything of a will, our children know nothing of what we own and eventually our death comes and no one knows.

Back to Rwathia Boys, the head of those establishment continue to take but the shareholders family have no idea their parents owned anything in the company. From Tom Mboya Street.. Nyanza Bar, Kiriini, Express Bar, Princess, Down to Luthuli Ave, SHan Bar, Another NyanZa Bar on top of Kigia Music shop off luthuli. Rwathia Distributors.The restaurant at the corner of Luthuli and Riveroad opposite embassy house, then Nyamakima, Rwathia, Kayu and many more including Njoguini, pangani several hotels,Eastleigh. I know all the presumed owners but the problem is they stopped distributing the riches to the poor people in Gichagi kia Machanini.

So when we praise the billionaires of Rwathia dont forget they have a lot to hide, a lot of dirty money in their hands. I don't mean all but most of them used Deceitful means to get where they are. Dont forget the untimely death of some of the shareholders who happened to be smarter and talk. some of the smart shareholders from Rwathia, Kihoya, Nyagatugu, kayu, kenyanjeru died in the late 70s and in the eighties as they started pointing to the misappropriation of the funds. I can name several but that is private. So don't think of pure billionaires and be proud of them. They had a great idea to start but they were only taking advantages of the shareholders. Those companies today are like individually owned. I used to get a free meal long time ago when i was in and finished high school before being independent but today they know me but they ask you when you visit what do you want. I don't complains. My uncle died and we don't even know what his shares were and we will never know. My father shares still there but he does not reveal what he gets.The top guys took over and now its like their family business now.

So write down or let your children know what you own and where the property is and they are not going to be conned. the problem is we think we are life members/ live forever and when our memory goes away it will be too late and there goes the inheritance and other secrets.

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