How beach boy met, fell in love with Keroche heiress

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Tecra Muigai, the daughter of Keroche Breweries chief executive Tabitha Karanja. Tecra died after allegedly falling down the stairs at an apartment in Lamu. Photo/COURTESY

Caroline Wangechi

Omar Lali, 50, the man at the centre of investigations into the death of Keroche Breweries heiress Tecra Muigai, is a beach boy who ekes out a living carrying luggage for tourists visiting Lamu island.

Lali also works as a boat operator when there are no tourists to take out for excursion.

He mastered boat riding as a coxswain and would hire one to ferry tourists to luxurious and secluded retreats in remote areas such as Kiwayu. Here, a one-night stay costs at least Sh48,000.

It was during one of these boat rides in 2017 that Lali met Tecra, the daughter of Keroche Breweries chief executive Tabitha Karanja.

Residents say Lali—who a court yesterday ordered he be held for 21 days for investigations—and Tecra had lived together at a local hotel since March before moving into an apartment.

Tecra is said to have fallen down the stairs while intoxicated and was rushed to Shella Dispensary where she was referred to King Fahad Hospital on April 30.

Born and raised in the remote fishing island of Kizingitini in Lamu East, Lali like many youth who had no means of earning a living other than fishing, moved to Lamu Archipelago where he lived with relatives.

The beach boy, who relatives say has children with three other women, became famous because of his signature long grey beard an ability to master foreign languages. Lali speaks fluent English, German, French and Dutch.

Seek blessings

He is said to be a smooth talker who endeared himself to tourists who he assisted carry luggage to the luxury hotels on the scenic island that is a retreat to rich as well as the young and restless.

According to Mohamed Ali Mohamed, a cousin, Lali and Tecra have been living as a couple for almost two years and had visited her parents in Naivasha to seek blessings for their union.

The smooth talker is reported to have met the last-born daughter of multi-billion Keroche beer brand brewers at Peponi Hotel after she was detained for failing to pay a Sh10,000 bill for drinks and accommodation.

“He had gone to Peponi Hotel to drop luggage belonging to some tourists when he found a lady (Tecra) in commotion with the owner over a bill.

Lali bailed her out after realising she was the same tourist she had dropped at the hotel days before,” said Mohamed, adding that he also paid for the room she was occupying.

The two struck friendship that developed into an intimate relationship,” Mohamed added.

Those who knew Tecra described her as a party animal with an appetite for the fine things of life and other mannerism associated with high society.

Mohamed said he was introduced to Tecra by Lali two years ago as they sailed from Shella, a swanky beach to Kiwayu in his boat.

“When her stay in Lamu ended, she returned to Naivasha with a promise of coming back and after two weeks, she was back. That was in 2017,” Mohamed recalled.

Since then, Tecra was a regular visitor to Lamu and would stay for months.

Mohamed said the relationship hit a rock when Tecra took Lali to visit her parents in Naivasha.

“She had gone with Lali for introduction to her parents. They rejected him but the girl stood her ground,” he said.

“Tecra vowed she could not separate with Lali and promised to stand by him despite the rejection,” he added.

Married to two

In Lamu, the two lovebirds spent most of their time at Diamond Hotel in Shella or Peponi and would normally be seen basking in the sand or resting at the seafront at night.

“In 2018, she accompanied Lali while dressed in a long white dress to a wedding in Kizingitini.

She had on a veil perhaps to show that she had converted to Islam. They spent two weeks in the village,” Mohamed said yesterday.

He claimed Tecra had helped one of his boyfriend’s nieces to secure employment at the Keroche Breweries. We could not, however, verify the claim.

Interestingly, Lali had allegedly been married to two other foreigners and had children with them.

“Lali is very famous and he is known to have children even abroad with different women.

As a family, we could not judge him but had to accept his new wife as he told us,” said his cousin.

Gone quiet

According to Mohamed, he was married to a German and had a baby girl with her before taking Tecra in.

Lali also has children with an Italian and a Dutch whom he befriended while visiting Lamu as tourists.

“Lali anajulikana hata ana watoto ulaya. Shida yake ni kulewa kupindukia (Lali is known to have befriended tourists he even has children with. His problem is overindulgence in alcohol,” said Mohamed.

The relative said the family is unhappy that the Karanjas had not intervened to secure Lali’s release and has instead “gone quiet yet she fell while drunk in their apartment in Shella.”

He said during their stay in Lamu, the family had given them a vehicle which was parked at the Mokowe yard.

 “We are wondering why Lali is being treated as a criminal. The family was aware of the relationship and there was a standby vehicle that had been hired by the family for the two to use to run errands while Tecra was in Lamu. The family would even send them drinks,” said the cousin.

Lali’s mother, Aisha Lali, said Tecra was introduced to her as his son’s wife. She said she was informed that Tecra had tripped on the stairs.

“Since the beginning they did not like him. He is suffering because he is from a poor family,” said Aisha.

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