In the business world, Stanley Munga Githunguri, the former banker who built Nairobi’s iconic Lilian Towers, could open doors when he reigned. By the time he died this week, the former Kiambaa MP had all but been forgotten.
Mr Githunguri, who died on Tuesday after a long struggle with dementia and diabetes, was a master investor. Along Kiambu Road, he had built Ridgeways Mall and had other real estate properties in Kiambu and Nairobi thanks to his dalliance with old money — when he was the executive chairman of the National Bank of Kenya in the 1970s.
A fallout with President Daniel Moi led to his problems in the 1980s as an attempt was made to sell Lilian Towers during a period when the Nyayo regime was targeting investors from central Kenya. He was accused by insiders of “arrogance,” as he would later say.
His political problems, he later said, started after he refused to sell the hotel to a gold wheeler-dealer who had connections with the State House. A circus followed this as the financial institution that had given him money recalled its loan. Mr Githunguri was in the news for three years as he sought to retain Lilian Towers.
The billionaire would later try his hand at politics and won the Kiambaa seat.
Born in 1945, Mr Githunguri attended St Mary’s High School in Alaska before joining Yampa Valley College and Kansas Teachers College, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in economics in 1967.
He returned to Kenya and worked as a District Officer in Meru and Tana River before joining NBK in 1968. Here, he met power as Jomo Kenyatta’s banker. The rest was history.
In his final years, Mr Githunguri had been taken to court by his eldest son, Joseph Munga, over the running of properties — a saga that unveiled the sad end of the tycoon.