Chapter 1 - Part 5 - Nicholas Biwott enters
So for me this subject was finished………. especially since soon after this I met Dr. Njoroge Mungai and with him started to feel ‘safe’.
But I should have been warned that a man like Kivuvani and with him also Nicholas Biwott, did not give up that easily - and definitely would not forget.
I should have taken into consideration their strong relationship especially since they had gone together into a very profitable ‘venture’, i.e. organizing the trafficking of Ugandan prostitutes to fulfill the ‘needs’ of the American Navy Personnel coming by the thousands to Kenya to spend some days or even weeks off from their duty in the Gulf Region. They had even forced the hotel managements to accept that these girls could enter the premises since especially the Officers used to stay in Hotels (until then this had been strictly forbidden). They also gave the gambling license to certain hotels (of course against a nice amount of money and shares also in this business.
(* see details of all this in my London Declaration given by
me to the Sunguh-Committee in February 2005).
My problems started after I had rented a house on a permanent basis in Mombasa which belonged to Mrs. Joan Canham. She was quite old and had some financial problems. Since I only used to stay there occasionally mainly during the summer holidays when my daughter used to join me, I had allowed Joan to continue living there using her bedroom-suite upstairs.
The house was directly next to the Nyali-Beach Hotel with a beautiful kept garden on a 3-acre-plot. Our neighbour on the other side was Duncan Ndegwa (Chairman Commercial Bank of Kenya).
The lawyer George Waruhiu and also Arthur Magugu (Minister for Health at that time) together with their wives were amongst the people who visited me there. They all liked the house and especially George was interested to buy it, should Mrs. Canham decide to sell it.
So it came as a big shock for me when I came back from a short trip to Switzerland and Mrs. Canham informed me that Mr. Kivuvani had approached her in the name of his Nairobi-friend Nicholas Biwott.
Biwott had some Italian business friends who wanted to buy the house for themselves.
The lawyer of these people (Brolio Steel Manufacturers) had forced her to accept a cheque for a 10 % deposit payment and so sign a Sales Contract threatening her that otherwise she would have to leave the country and would lose the house without seeing any money at all.
She showed me the document and when I saw the price, I told her that this was much too low and that George Waruhiu had offered a much higher price.
I was sure (at least thinking about the legal situation in such cases in Switzerland ….) that the whole matter could be revoked since she did not cash the cheque yet. So she should be able to step out of this mess.
Since I could not reach George Waruhiu, I called James Karugu and asked him for advise. He confirmed that the sale could be revoked and then passed to me the name of a lawyer, a friend of his, in Mombasa.
Together with Mrs. Canham I went to see him. He promised to solve the matter and got into contact with Kivuvani and Biwott.
But soon after Mrs. Canham was told that there was nothing to do since Biwott had insisted in the name of his Italian friends that the sale had to go through.
And on top of this, also James Karugu got himself into troubles because he interfered against Biwott’s interests ………. he soon after lost his job – of course some other more serious reasons were then given officially but he and I knew what really happened ‘never mess up with a man like Biwott’ …………….. I should have better kept this in my mind too ……..
Mrs. Canham had to move out of the house immediately. As a ‘punishment’, she only got half of the agreed money at the end – the other half was then ‘covered’ by putting at her disposal a run-down small apartment in a low-class area of Mombasa.
It took me some months to find out where she was living since she had no telephone connection in her new place. I visited her and was shocked about the conditions she was living in. Luckily, her old servant who had been working for her for almost 40 years, had agreed to still look after her although she could not pay him anymore the former salary.
When I came back to Mombasa a few weeks later, her neighbours informed me that she had died in the meantime …………
Another incident happened about the same time which involved Biwott directly:
I had been introduced by the Swiss Manager of the Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi to a German businessman from Hamburg, Dieter Neumann, who was planning to build an Apartment-Hotel at the Coast.
Some Kenyan business circles had introduced him to Nicholas Biwott, Minister of State – Office of the President. And Biwott had put him into contact with his lawyer in Mombasa, Prem Prinja, who then proposed a site for the hotel.
Prinja had also told Mr. Neumann that Biwott had to be given 15 % participation in the Hotel (10 % for President Moi and 5 % for himself – following into the footsteps of the Kenyattas who had ‘introduced’ this successfully in the 60s and 70s as the “normal” procedure for any company which wanted to do business in Kenya – as Mr. Biwott explained).
I personally saw some correspondence in which Mr. Neumann was confirming this arrangement to Biwott addressed to his official address at State House.
After having spoken with Mr. Neumann and having heard about this ‘funny’ conditions, I introduced him to Dr. Mungai who then proposed another plot which the German Group liked much more (as far as I remember it was a plot owned in a joint-venture by Mama Ngina, Ngethe Njoroge (Mungai’s brother) and Gechaga and situated on the other side of the creek facing the old town of Mombasa.
Mr. Neumann then made the mistake to tell Prinja that he had found another plot and therefore the business with him and Biwott could not go through and also the 15 % Agreement had to be revoked.
And that was the end for Mr. Neumann in Kenya: When he came back together with his German partner and their families to spend some weeks at the Reef Hotel, Biwott got into contact with Kivuvani.
First the Hotel Management of the Reef was instructed not to accept their Credit Cards (although they had golden Visa Cards). They were asked to arrange for cash payment. Since they had already been in the hotel for more than 3 weeks – two families together with 5 children occupying a suite with 2 bedrooms each – this was a big amount. But after some days (knowing the Kenyan Banks at that time, you will realize that this task was not easy), they got the money and not only covered their bills but also left a nice deposit for the rest of their stay.
Thinking that with this, their problems were settled, Mr. Neumann went to Nairobi to continue his discussions with Dr. Mungai and also to meet Zakhem Engineering (they had been introduced by Dr,. Mungai and had shown an interest to enter as Partners and had already secured that the Intercontinental-Group was taking over the Management of the Hotel later).
When he came back from one of these meetings, two Special-Branch Officers were waiting for him. They searched his briefcase and also confiscated his German Passport.
Mr. Neuman later realized that the only documents missing was the correspondence between him and Biwott regarding the 15 % arrangements.
So the force behind Special Branch involvement was confirmed: Nicholas Biwott……………
Luckily I was also in Nairobi at that time and immediately tried to Intervene and spoke with Dr. Mungai.
Mr. Neumann was then allowed to return to Mombasa – and after having settled their bills, he and his partners also left Kenya ………….. forever .
But because of my renewed involvement or as he called it ‘interference in his personal matters’ , Nicholas Biwott had already ‘collected’ another file about me – as I was to learn very soon ………..
See Marianne Briner's other fascinating blog on the Kenyan presidency.