Man seeks recognition as Kibaki’s firstborn, wants part of wealth

Jacob Ocholla Mwai

Mr Jacob Ocholla Mwai who wants the court to compel the family of the late Kibaki to recognise him as the firstborn son of Kenya’s third President

Photo credit: Screengrab

A 62-year-old man who claims to be former President Mwai Kibaki’s biological son has gone to court demanding to know if the former Head of State bequeathed any part of his wealth to him.

Mr Jacob Ocholla Mwai wants the court to compel the family of the late Kibaki to recognise him as the firstborn son of Kenya’s third President and to give him an equal share of the departed patriarch’s wealth.

Born in Kaloleni, Nairobi, in July 1960, Mr Ocholla says after his adopted father Hillary Ocholla died on January 28, 1981, his mother sat him down and told him the deceased was his adopted father.

He further says that his mother “promised to arrange a visit to see my real father”.

“It was the most shocking thing I had ever heard. The news left me distraught and with so many unanswered questions. All along I had grown up knowing that I was a Luo, only to realise that I was not,” Ocholla Mwai states in his sworn affidavit.

Begin distributing Kibaki estate

In the case filed before Justice Florence Muchemi in Nyeri through his lawyers, Mr Omoke Morara and Ms Peacela Atim, Mr Ocholla wants the court to order Kibaki’s children – Judy Kibaki, David Kagai, Jimmy Kibaki and Anthony Githinji – to begin distributing the former President’s estate.

In the succession dispute filed on July 15 in the Family Division of the High Court, the applicant expresses fears that he might be left out during the late Kibaki’s succession process.

“That the Citor has attempted to reach out to the Citees multiple times but his efforts have not been successful. The Citor is afraid that the Citees might proceed with the succession process without involving him and he might be left out of the estate of the deceased despite him being entitled to a share of the estate,” read the court documents in part.

Mr Ocholla claims that on March 1981, he accompanied his mother to the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, where he met the then Vice-President Mwai Kibaki for the first time.

“Even when the time came for me to meet with him, even when he walked into the Amboseli Grill Foyer at Hilton hotel, I did not know he was my father, because he was someone I had known when I was growing up. He came and sat next to me. When orders were placed, my mother broke the news that Kibaki was my biological father,” says Mr Ocholla in the affidavit.

Addressed by name

He adds: “He addressed me by name. Remember he was a close associate of my late adopted father, both having been students at Makerere. Indeed, it is in Uganda that he met my mother when she was visiting my adopted father, Ocholla. At one time, the two were even neighbours at Bahati estate in Nairobi.”

Despite having been frequently seeing his ‘Father’ at Milimani, Mombasa Beach and Sirikwa hotels in Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret (respectively) where he served as a manager, Mr Ocholla claims this access was suddenly cut off when Kibaki became President in 2002.

“I met with my father four times in Nyari office NO.7 and I had conversations with him. He assured me that I was going to get my share of what I am entitled to as his son; my inheritance. In that year, 2016, my father promised that by November 30, 2016, he would have given me a letter detailing all my entitlements. I trusted my father because I have always trusted him so I was confident that he would honour his word,” he adds in court papers, adding that he was unable to access Kibaki after the latter became President.

Attempts to visit Kibaki

“After his retirement, I made numerous attempts to visit him at his Muthaiga home when he was ailing without success, and when he died, I was barred from paying my respects. My lawyer, Dr John Khaminwa, unsuccessfully requested the family and the Attorney-General to intercede,” he further explains.

According to Mr Ocholla’s affidavit, Kibaki might have written his will. He, therefore, wants to know who should be appointed as administrator of Kibaki's estate and who should benefit from it.

“It appears that Jacob Ocholla Mwai is the lawful son of the deceased and one of the persons entitled to share in his undisposed estate. Now this is to direct you (Kibaki children) to appear in the High Court in Nyeri and accept or refuse the probate of the said will or show cause why letters of administration of Kibaki’s estate should not be granted to Ocholla,” reads a letter referenced ‘citation to accept and refuse probate’.

“Take notice that in default of your so appearing and accepting probate of the said will, this court may proceed to grant letters of administration of the said estate to Jacob Ocholla Mwai, your absence notwithstanding,” the letter reads.

Resembles Kibaki

Mr Ocholla says that he resembles Kibaki. He has attached photos and further states that people who have met him say he looks like the deceased.

According to the court documents, Ocholla says he chose to make his parentage public now and not when Kibaki was alive, saying that when they first met, the former President not only acknowledged that he was his biological father, but asked him to always respect him as a father. He states that Kibaki further asked him not to do anything that would injure his (Kibaki’s) character.

Justice Muchemi directed that the case be mentioned before the court on September 19, 2022. The judge further directed the Kibaki family to file their responses within 21 days.