Billionaires Who Built Nairobi: Inspiring Story of K1 Club Tycoon & Sons

  • K1 Klub House in Nairobi's Parklands area.
    K1 Klub House in Nairobi's Parklands area.
    File
  • K1 Klub House has, for decades now, been synonymous with the city's entertainment scene largely due to its themed nights and perfect location.

    It has attracted high ranking stars from across the globe including those from far-flung areas such as Jamaican Reggae performers.

    The experience, was, however, brought into the city by a little-known tycoon from Eldoret known as James Mwangi Kirung’o alias Kahama in the 1980s.

    The journey began in 1982, shortly after Kahama served a two-month jail sentence in association with that year's attempted coup to topple the then President, Daniel Moi.

    The late billionaire Kahama Mwangi Kirungo
    The late billionaire Kahama Mwangi Kirungo.
    File

    Upon his release, Kahama, alongside one of his sons identified as John Mwangi, moved to Nairobi and began acquiring properties. All the while, his other two sons, Sammy Wakaina and Stephen Mwaura, remained in Eldoret taking care of the family's Kahama Bakery business.

    In the city, Kirung'o took a bank loan and purchased his first hotel, which was at the time known as Kenya International Hotel in Ngara, spruced it up and turned it into the iconic Kahama Hotel.

    Later, he purchased another struggling establishment known as Tree Shade Hotel in Parklands and transformed it into the modern K1 Klub House, taking advantage of the fledgling city nightlife.

    “We got a licence to operate after 11pm, got a live band going, brought in some pool tables before pool tables really became the rage and then for the last genius stroke, did away with entry fee. Clubs around hated us," Sammy recounted in an interview with Business Daily.

    After a successful stint in the hospitality industry through out the '90s, the sons opened another club christened K2 in 2001 which was located on Nairobi’s Baricho Road.

    So proud was the billionaire that after the success of his hotels, four in number including one named Kahama in Mombasa, he officially changed his name replacing James with Kahama.

    After his death in March 1998, the family remained united as per his wishes and disparity only began in 2011 when his wife, Eunice Njeri Mwangi, and daughters filed a suit demanding control of the estate. They also wanted the High Court to subdivide the property.

    At the time, the value of the expansive estate had hit Ksh2 billion and it included K1, which was at the time valued at Ksh500 million.

    The sons, on the other hand, argued that their mother had locked them out of the Parklands office after the fallout.

    Moreover, Kahama Hotel in Ngara has also been earmarked for demolition as part of the government's plan to construct a new public transport terminal in Nairobi's Globe Roundabout area.

    The iconic Kahama Hotel in Nairobi.
    The iconic Kahama Hotel in Nairobi.
    File
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