In footsteps of his father, meet James Wanderi Kairu

James Kairu - JK
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  • Written by:

    Dan Mwangi

    James Wanderi Kairu or JK as he is commonly known among his peers is the second born of the four children of the former business magnate and Kieni M.P. David Munene Kairu and his wife Mrs. Lucy Wangechi Kairu. His siblings are Mr. Benson Kairu Munene, Mr. Patrick Maina Munene and Mrs. Esther Wanjiku Munene. He is married to his dear wife Mrs. Julia Wairimu Wanderi.

    His father was a celebrated politician who was considered a backbone to Mt. Kenya politics and an instrumental force in Democratic party formation where he was among the key founders, strategist and financier together with its then party leader former President Mwai Kibaki. The party was founded in 1991 by John Keen and Mwai Kibaki after section 2A of the constitution was repealed.

    Born on 2nd December, 1950 Hon. Munene Kairu had a prolific profile in everything he turned to. In his days many used to say he had magic to turn into success anything he could set his eye on. Until his demise on 1st April, 1998, Hon. Munene Kairu was Member of Parliament for Kieni constituency and owner of Legend Hotels Limited which owns The White Rhino Hotel in the heart of Nyeri town among others.

    Hon. Munene Kairu acquired White Rhino hotel from Amos Wamuyu who bought it in 1970 from an Asian businessman, Ramnic Bhadrese. Bhadrese bought it from its original owners in 1965. It is in records that in 1910 three Europeans – Berkely Cole, Lord Cranworth and Sandy Herd – founded the White Rhino Hotel in what was then British East Africa.

    From its inception The White Rhino Hotel was well-known across the region as the first segregated exclusive pub for whites and local Africans were kept off with the threat of attacks by guard dogs, which would pounce on them if spotted in the vicinity. This prejudice was visited on locals until 1970 when the first African owner Amos Wamuyu bought it in 1970. It is then when he removed the sign post “Whites Only” at the entrance.

    Upon acquiring it Amos converted it to 22 self contained rooms from the previous 27 which were not self contained then. Amos as well converted the one roomed bar into two sections. One section was known as Thingira Bar i was specifically designed for the elders to meet and enjoy a drink as they discuss business. The other was for general public.

    After the demise of his husband Lucy Kairu continued with the magnificent trend set by his friend, husband and father of her children, Hon. Munene Kairu. She has been rebranding, modernising and renovating White Rhino hotel which had made it a landmark in Nyeri Town.

    Each floor of the hotel has an automatic shoe polisher, wide corridors under CCTV surveillance, and each room has an electronic key card system.

    The penthouse suites are fitted with jacuzzis and private balconies overlooking Nyeri town. The rooftop hosts, a bar and a playroom for children.

    Other very notable features are; fitting of panoramic elevators in addition the rooms are phisical challenge-friendly this has been realised by ensuring they have bathrooms and rooms that allow clients with any form of disability to also enjoy the comfort of the hotel.

    In 2001 the hotel was gazetted as a historical monument which makes it a valuable historical site for Mt. Kenya region considering it was one of the first hotels to be established in this area.

    Jimmy, the man
    On his part JK is taking the region by storms. He has founded and initiated a whirlwind positive movement which targets to convert the Mt. Kenya region to Africa’s Guangzhou which together with Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen generated an eighth of China’s national output in year 2017.

    JK with Kirinyaga Governor Waiguru

    JK, who exists as a socioeconomic development strategist, philanthropist and investor, is the vision bearer and founder chairman of Mt. Kenya development Movement (MKDM) which is a citizen oriented, non-political, non-profit socioeconomic development network of friends of Mt. Kenya region whose main agenda is economic development.

    MKDM‘s vision is uniting for peace, prosperity and posterity of the members of the society.

    Mt. Kenya development Movement currently operates within 13 counties namely: Kiambu, Murangá, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nthi, Meru, Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, Nakuru and Nairobi City County.

    JK believes that no any country has developed without dedication of its citizen who defies all odds and goes out to convert any dry land to industrial parks and market hub. In his wide vision he envisages Kenya becoming Africa’s most industrialized country courtesy of Mt. Kenya development Movement. He plans to leverage on the region’s business acumen, proficient longlasting business networks, political goodwill, developed infrastructure and road network among other advantages that the region enjoy.

    He wishes also to lobby the county governments and national government to revive the existing Nairobi-Nanyuki meter gauge railway. This would ease transport of the finished products from the agricultural hotbeds of the Kenyan highlands where the movements operations are based. It is also the plan of Mt. Kenya development Movement to strategically preapre for the LAPPSET corridor completion upon which they will hugely contribute in transformation of the dryparts of  Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, parts of Embu and Tharaka Nthi Counties into splendid manufacturing and modern cities marked with skyscrapers only comparable to the Dubai desert city.

    MKDM also has a keen focus on the Kenya’s gold plant the Coffee farming. They are collaborating with farmers on how to increase coffee yield per bush, pricing of Coffee, and ways of export whether individually or through cooperatives and how value addition can be done locally among others.

    JK with Nyeri DG H.E. Caroline Karugu

    On Youth matters MKDM is considering 7 thematic areas namely: Employment or self-employment

    • Government offers for the Youth
    • Best income generating projects for Youth
    • Sources of funding for Youth projects
    • Education sponsorship programmes for the Youth
    • Youth talents for income
    • How can the Youth Unite

    In order to realise the latter, MKDM has secured foreign currency denominated facilities to ensure access to cheaper capital at 1.43% p.a. Interest rate – fixed with flexible and longer repayment terms of up-to 25 years, with grace period (moratorium) of up to 24 months. Under chairmanship of Jimmy the movement secured capital facilities and offered bankable securities (collateral with AAA-rating) which the lenders have accepted is in place.


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