By Odhiambo Levin Opiyo.
Documents in my possession show how Kenyatta and members of his extended family embarked on a land grabbing spree after independence.
The documents which cover 1974 to 1977 include letters from the then Lands Minister Mr Angaine, Chief Land Valuer Mr Dermott Kydd, British Ministry of Overseas Development and the victims’ testimonies.
They also show Kenyatta’s love for free things with one letter claiming he ordered dairy cows from a farm in Molo to be driven to his Gatundu farm.
Of interest was the Sukari ranch which was described as ” 30,000 acres extending from Nairobi City boundaries in the general direction of Ruiru, Kahawa and Gatundu.”
Until early 1974 this land was owned by French Scophin Company. However after the owners left, it was earmarked for the future expansion of Nairobi.
A cabinet paper was therefore prepared that the government should buy this land to prevent future speculation. But how this land ended up being Kenyatta’s nobody knew.
The manner in which Kenyatta acquired the land became a subject of some rude remarks by some MPs while Kenyatta was in the chamber during the swearing in of parliament in 1974.
In the first week of December 1974, James Njenga the Director of Settlement who was the man tasked with buying land for the settlement of Africans using British funds , telephoned Mr Kydd the Chief Valuer and informed him that he should give a site unseen valuation because Kenyatta wanted to sell part of the land to Settlement .
It was very suspicious that Kenyatta wanted to sell the land he had only owned for three months. Secondly he wanted to sell the land to the Settlement which involved the land owners being paid using British funds meant for the settlement of landless Africans.
Mr Kydd refused Njenga’s request and insisted that he had to see the farm first before offering any valuation. Kydd also querried the feasibility of effecting much settlement on the barren land and poor soil of the ranch. Kenyatta’s intent was to retain the productive part and sell the barren part to the British for the settlement of Africans.
Njenga who was annoyed by the response banged the phone, and Kydd went to report the incident to the Director of Lands Mr O’Loughlin. No sooner had Kydd arrived in Loughlin’s office than Mr Angaine the Minister for Lands telephoned Mr Loughlin demanding that he should order Kydd to give a valuation so that Settlement headed by Njenga could buy Kenyatta’s farm immediately using funds set aside for the settlement of Africans.
Both O’Laughlin and Kydd refused, and it was left that Angaine would speak to Kenyatta about it. The only valuation Kydd could give Angaine was that of 1972 when the farm was owned by Scophin Company which was around sic “K £ 250,000”. Angaine, however, rejected this saying he couldn’t tell Kenyatta that his land was that cheap.
Following the conversation Angaine went to see Kenyatta and subsequently both Kydd and Loughlin were summoned to State House Nairobi on Dec 18, 1974, at 1pm.
Kenyatta refused to shake Kydd’s hand instead barked insults at him asking him why he had given his farm a low value . Kenyatta then turned into a bully twice ordering the two to their cars and back.
After the bullying session Kenyatta ordered Kydd to go to his farm and generate a price for every acre. He demanded that this price had to be arranged in a manner that enabled him to dispose off 20,000 acres of barren/unproductive land to Settlement.
Kydd arrived at the ranch at around 2.30 and found Angaine already waiting for him. Angaine apologised at the way things had happened at State House and said that he had been ordered by Kenyatta to confirm that he (Kydd) had arrived at the farm.
Kydd spent the evening until dark in the ranch and typed his report late in the night.
In Kydd’s on estimate Kenyatta was to make a kill of Kshs 4,000,000 from the 20,000 acres of barren land he was to dispose off. Selling the land acquired in a questionable manner and demanding to be paid using funds set aside for the settlement of the landless Africans was indeed corruption.
But this was not the only case of corruption involving the Kenyatta’s. In January 1977 Ari Grammaticas who owned Governor’s camp and 500 acres of tea plantation in Thika had his farm forcefully taken over by Mama Ngina Kenyatta. Although the farm was valued at Ksh 1000,000 Mama Ngina only paid. Kshs 200,000.
However, Grammaticas who decided to move Switzerland after the take over vowed not to take it lying down. She sued Mama Ngina through a firm owned by Dingle Foot. The involvement of Dingle Foot who was a prominent lawyer forced Mama Ngina to back down, and through her agents she offered to pay Grammaticas more money.
Others mentioned in the forceful and illegal acquisition of land were Kenyatta’s brother James Muigai, his son Peter Kenyatta, grandson Michael Njoroge, his Nephews who included Dr Njoroge Mungai, Beth mugo and many others.
Other huge tracts of land acquired by Kenyatta and his family are also mentioned and details given.