Muhoho: The man behind Kenyatta family business empire

ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s brother Muhoho in a jovial mood during Jaramogi Odinga’s 25th anniversary at St Peters ACK Nyamira Parish in Bondo, Siaya County, on January 20, 2019. Muhoho helped broker the peace deal between his brother and Mr Odinga last year. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • From his earliest days, a former childhood friend recalls he always wanted to be a farmer and would say so to anyone who would listen.
  • Brookside stable has since overthrown the Kenya Cooperative Creameries as the initial market leader in the processed milk business.
  • Brookside has since expanded operations to Uganda and Rwanda, and there has been reports it was eyeing the Ethiopian Market.

The self-effacing kid brother of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, set the media scene alight last weekend when he represented the Head of State at the 25th memorial service of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in Bondo.

Pictures of Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Muhoho holding hymn books at the memorial service dramatised the progress the new found rapprochement between the sons of the founding fathers has made.

There were no speeches or “quotes” from the event, but the pictures that circulated on social media spoke volumes, bringing back memories of the relationship between the patriarchs of the nation’s most prominent two families that led Kenya to independence, founding President Jomo Kenyatta and his first vice-president Jaramogi.

It was the closest Muhoho was seen to wade into the political terrain since he was recalled from family business to manage the International Criminal Court (ICC) local and international legal research and defence work with a view to pulling his big brother out of the indictments and charges at The Hague.


He would later play decisive backroom acquisition, refurbishment and branding of The National Alliance party (TNA) and providing back end operations for the TNA-United Republican Party (URP) coalition campaigns in 2013 general election from the Chancery offices on Nairobi’s Valley Road.

Just like their fathers, both Raila and Uhuru would become the most visible political faces of the two families, and powerful brands in their respective Luo and Kikuyu communities and nationally.

But little is known of Muhoho as he seems to go to at great lengths to avoid public limelight, or throw his weight around basking in reflected glory of his more famous big brother not to mention his pedigree, as many scions of first families are known for in Africa.

It’s however Muhoho’s dependability in running quiet backroom errands for his big brother during difficult times that has left little room for emergence of traditional power brokers who were a permanent fixture in past presidencies in Kenya.

Neither does his name or companies feature in the scramble for government supply tenders nor the jostling for public jobs for cronies and kin.


He rarely will be seen at golfing or social events where power brokers and wheeler-dealers normally congregate for introductions, “networking” and “bonding”, apparently having lost his time for golf and shooting to take care of family enterprises.

When his name first featured in the infamy of contaminated sugar imports last year, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri had to recall his words within 24 hours to clear Mr Muhoho, after some family firms appeared in a list of companies associated with the scam.

Some detractors of Kiunjuri had started popping champagne bottles that his career would come to an end in anticipated retribution.

However, Mr Muhoho simply furnished parliament with a list companies and the licenses they held to import refined sugar for the family’s milk processing business, though pointing out they had never imported a grain of the type of sugar under investigation, let alone for resale market.


Those who know him say the father of three, two daughters and a son, is a gentle soul who works 12 to 14 hours a day, often leaving his office at his Ruiru headquarters of the Brookside Dairies Ltd after 10pm.

Those who have worked for him say he is at ease with his employees both at the offices or on the farms, and if lunch hour catches him out of the office, he normally invites his employees to his table in hotels.

“If for any reason his driver is not around or held up somewhere, he will just jump into his car and drive himself off to some appointment or duty. He has no airs at all,” one former employee recalled.

He is a strict timekeeper and methodical and does not entertain time wasting during working hours, even on his children.


When his wife Erica is not around and it falls on him to mind the children, Muhoho does not leave them at home, but packs them in his car to the office, where he assigns them to the factory to pack milk or to the farm to cut hay with the rest of the employees.

“He has insisted his girls and his first born son, Jomo, now in first year in college, learn how to milk cows and boil the produce for themselves. No one is allowed to go off idling during working hours.

"They join us in the factory packing milk, or the boy joins us on a tractor to cut and pack hay and maize in silos. He would speak to us and his children too in Kikuyu,” a former employee recounted.

How does he relate with his big brother? “They are very tight. Muhoho often plays the master of ceremonies in family functions and respects his brother a lot.

"He calls him Mutungoria (the leader or boss). Any time he expected the President to visit him at the office, he would put everyone on alert by announcing “mututongoria ni aroka mwibange” (the boss/leader is coming, everyone be prepared,” one recalled.


From his earliest days, a former childhood friend recalls he always wanted to be a farmer and would say so to anyone who would listen.

“When children rattled off their list if wishes, Muhoho never hesitated to make it clear he wanted to be farmer. We are not surprised he has become so successful and passionate at it,” commented a family friend who knew him from childhood.

Muhoho seems to have rubbed off his farming passion on his nephew, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s son, Jomo, who is reported to have taken his generation’s farming heritage to horticultural farming since 2014 in Gatundu, the family’s ancestral home.

After graduating with economics and political science degree from the prestigious Williams College, Massachusetts in the US, Muhoho joined the family businesses mostly involved in farming and real estate development in the 70s and 80s, but which he is credited with deliberate conversion into corporates and disposing off the farms.


He helped found Brookside Dairies Ltd in 1993, and which has become the market leader in the milk processing and products in Kenya and the region, expanding its hold with a series of acquisitions of rivals in recent years.

Among the acquisitions which have at times raised eyebrows about the effects of too much concentration and dominance by a few players, include Ilara, Delamere, Molo Milk and Kilifi brands.

Brookside stable has since overthrown the Kenya Cooperative Creameries as the initial market leader in the processed milk business.

Brookside has since expanded operations to Uganda and Rwanda, and there has been reports it was eyeing the Ethiopian Market.

A sneak preview of Muhoho’s quiet self-effacing ways of doing things is perhaps reflected in the fact the he holds a vice-chair position in the board of the family’s crown jewel, the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), the biggest private bank in Kenya.


Other prominent brands in Kenya in which Muhoho is the key overseer on the business side include the Heritage Group whose flagships include the Mara and Samburu Intrepids, the Voyager Beach Resort and The Great Rift Valley Lodges, among others.

His position as the nuts and bolts man of the Kenyatta family business empire offered Muhoho the cross cultural and cross-generational networks said to have helped him play backroom interlocutor in brokering the famous March 9 “handshake”, that has since altered the country’s political landscape in dramatic ways and still evolving.