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How Veteran politician, the late John Keen divided empire

By Everlyne Judith Kwamboka | Published Sun, April 16th 2017 at 10:00, Updated April 15th 2017 at 23:59 GMT +3
Veteran politician, the late John Keen

Veteran politician, the late John Keen left his business empire worth more than Sh13 billion in the hands of two family members and a prominent judge.

Supreme Court Judge Isaac Lenaola, one of Keen’s wives Rosemary Sanau and their daughter Pamela Soila are to execute the Maasai elder’s will by administering the multi-billion shilling estate mainly comprised of investments in real estate and blue chip companies.

Administration of the whole estate was granted to the three who are to manage the properties as trustees and executors of the will, by High Court Judge Rosemary Ougo on April 4, who will be required to render a just and true account of the estate whenever required by the law.

In her affidavit in support of the letters of grant petition filed in February, Pamela informed the court that she assumed the name Huubers when she got married and confirmed that Pamela Soila Keen named in the said will and Pamela Soila Keen Huubers is one and the same person.

Keen died at the Aga Khan Hospital on December 25 last year, leaving a valid will dated December 2, 2015 that was drawn by Maina Wachira & Company Advocates.

“I declare that without prejudice to and withstanding the provisions herein before contained my trustees shall have and enjoy all the powers, authority and discretion conferred upon executors or trustees by law,” Keen who died aged 90 had stated in his will.

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Strict disciplinarian

The family man who instilled discipline in his children and a strong patriarch determined to reform the nation, made it clear in his will that none of the beneficiaries should challenge his wishes.

“Any legatee herein be it a wife or child or grandchild questioning, challenging or objecting to my wishes as herein expressed shall be deemed and taken as disrespecting me and I direct that the wife’s, child’s or grandchild’s gift, endowment, entitlement and bequests shall upon such act or event automatically be forfeited and those assets and property shall form part of my residuary estate,” he warned.

In his will, Keen who valued education bequeath his 24,500 shares of J Keen Investments Ltd and 998 of Resson Gardens Ltd to Lenaola and his team to hold in trust and to apply the income for his grandchildren’s education.

He said this should be given to the children of Pamela, Anthony Simel, Hilda Soila, Edward Neitamei, Somoire Sam and Benard Olonana whom he said were known to him at the time of his demise.

The funds are to also cater for his daughter Silole Wangui’s education in the United Kingdom in such amounts that the trustees shall consider and deem fit and necessary mainly for purposes of advancing their education to the highest level.

Keen who served as an assistant minister in the Office of the President during former President Moi’s regime, said once the youngest grandchild attains 21 years, the shares J Keen Investments Ltd should be distributed to his children.

At the time of his death, Keen had shares in blue chip companies such as Safaricom Ltd (659,880), Standard Chartered Bank of Kenya (11,877,840) and Kenya Commercial Bank (53,000,000).

Keen who did not want his children and grandchildren to suffer when he is gone, left the 11,877,840 shares to those who might not be able to pay for their medical expenses and other necessities of life.

He also took care of the welfare of the grandchildren who may want to start a business project after clearing college and attaining the age of 21.

For the love a child has towards the parent, Keen considered the nature of behaviour and conduct of each of his children towards him and generally the love and respect each one of them accorded him during his lifetime. This also included his siblings including a house help and nanny to his daughter. The highest beneficiaries for treating Keen well, is to get Sh15 million and the least will pocket Sh5 million.

The Maasai elder had parcels of land in Kajiado, Kilifi and Nairobi counties worth millions of shillings.

Loved education

On matters environment, Keen made it clear that 270 acres of land in Kajiado County be retained by the trustees and J Keen Investment Ltd trustees for natural wildlife habitation and ecological objectives.

This excluded the land the Maasai Lodge is located, which he said shall be used only for commercial and tourist purposes as a hotel and entertainment and recreational centre.

For the community that has seen its members travel several kilometres in search of university education, Keen bequeath 125 acres of land in Kajiado County to the trustees for the establishment of an educational institute for the advancement of education for young people.

This is on condition that his son Cliff Lemita is appointed the chairman of the trust fund to be formed to incorporate for the purposes of holding the land in its name and running the institution with the main purpose and objective of accomplishing his wishes.

The veteran politician who was also a farmer left his livestock to two of his sons on the understanding that they would continue with the farming as per the standards he had set.