Billionaire businessman Jeremiah Kiereini, who passed on on Tuesday in Nairobi at the age of 90, was one of the richest Kenyans.
A business partner of former President Moi and former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, he had interests in real estate, coffee farming and the hotel industry.
He also sat on the boards of companies such as CMC Holdings, Unga Limited and CFC Stanbic.
‘Kiereini Waters’ as he was known for his stint as chairman of the East Africa Breweries Limited, he is credited with transforming the company into East African Breweries Ltd during his 24 tenure at the giant brewer.
A former District Officer in the colonial government, Kiereini served in the public service for 50 years in the governments of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Moi in various positions, first as Defence Permanent Secretary at independence and later as Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet under Moi. He retired in 1984.
In his autobiography, A Daunting Journey, which was published in 2014, he related how he nearly shot another tycoon in a Nairobi bar for calling Njonjo his ‘husband.’
“Thii ukere murumegwo Njonjo ninii ndoiga (Go tell your husband Njonjo, I’m the one who said so),” Harun Muturi reportedly declared.
“I was so enraged at Muturi’s foul and vulgar insult that I decided I would shoot him. I went to my car in an overwhelming rage, to get my gun… I even considered shooting them all! But as I walked out into the fresh air… I came to my senses… went straight home and slept,” he writes.
Muturi co-owns Joreth Ltd, the firm which sold the land on which the General Service Unit headquarters, Thome Estate, United States International University University (USIU), Garden Estate, National Youth Service headquarters in Ruaraka stand.
Kiereini leaves behind his wife Dr Eunice Muringo Kiereini–President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s first nurse and Kenya’s longest serving Chief Nursing Officer.
The only blot on Kiereni’s life is when he and former CMC chief executive Martin Forster, where accused by a South African forensic audit firm Weber Wentzwel, which had been retained by the Capital Markets Authority, of being a signatory of an illegal offshore accounts that held more than Ksh 250 million. He was cleared by the High Court.
The late Kiereni leaves behind his wife Dr Eunice Muringo Kiereini. She was Mzee Kenyatta’s first nurse and the longest serving Chief Nursing Officer.
In his message of condolence, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the late Kiereini remains an important part of Kenya’s public service history because of his many achievements key among them being the role he played in the modernisation of the Kenyan military when he served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence.