Politician and entrepreneur Nginyo Kariuki dies at 82

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 07:52 |
Trader Nginyo Kariuki (left) with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi at the former’s Rironi home in Kiambu, last year when the former vice-president paid him a courtesy call. PD/Bernard Malonza

President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyans in mourning ex-golfer, trade unionist, entrepreneur and politician Lawrence Nyingo Kariuki, who passed on at a Nairobi hospital yesterday. He was 82.

Curtains came down on the Kiambu politician and businessman, whose insatiable love for golf saw him rise from a caddie to a professional player.

 Nginyo, whose life befits the tag of from grass to grace, died yesterday at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi following a long battle with kidney failure and diabetes. 

His son, Anthony Kariuki, said the seasoned politician’s health deteriorated last year and he was taken to a London-based hospital where he was stabilised before returning to Kenya.

 “It is with great regret that we the family of Lawrence Nginyo Kariuki announce his passing on this morning (yesterday)February 24, 2020 at the Aga Khan University Hospital at 1.30am. He got worse in early January this year and was hospitalised at the Aga Khan hospital where he was operated on but unfortunately, he was not able to wake up and was put on a life supporting machine for several weeks before he succumbed to his condition,” said Kariuki.

Nginyo will be remembered as a long-standing politician who was instrumental in Kenya’s quest for multiparty democracy. Apart from the 2017 elections, he had for over two decades sought elective posts in Nairobi and Kiambu but in vain.

 The octogenerain, who owns Nginyo Tower in Nairobi’s central business district and the Lenana Mount Hotel, had previously described himself as a leading farmer and trader— who built his empire through hard work— politician and a golfer of over forty years, both as an amateur and professional.

In his message of condolence and comfort to Nyingo’s family, friends and relatives, President Kenyatta describing him as an astute businessman and serial entrepreneur whose businesses created thousands of jobs for Kenyans.

 “Kenya has lost a great patriot and a business icon who believed in the Kenyan market,” said the President.

Pioneer participation

The President underscored Nginyo’s outstanding support for institutions and initiatives aimed at uplifting the country’s socio-economic wellbeing.

Nginyo, a father of seven, plunged into the world of business in 1956 to take care of his mother and siblings after his father’s death, which denied him the privilege of getting an education.

He rose in the world of business and in 1965 he became the vice-chairman of Kenya Chemical Workers Union. The following year, he was elected chairman of the Nairobi branch of the just-launched Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu). In 1967, Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) was formed.

Nginyo is also credited with creating platforms to integrate ordinary Kenyans as golfers in what was previously regarded as an “elite” game. He pioneered amateur and professional golf for indigenous Kenyans by setting up the first golf club— Ndumberi Golf Club—  that catered for indigenous Kenyans.  “Rising from a caddie, I propelled African golfers to the level of professional golfing standards where I pioneered Kenya’s participation in regional and international golf tournaments with exemplary performances,” he once said in an interview.

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