Stanley Githunguri who died on Wednesday was one of the remaining Kenyatta and Moi era legends.
Flashback: Wearing a black jacket over a pristine white shirt, the retired banker covertly counted crisp banknotes in his trousers pockets as he chitchatted with a band of young men surrounding him.
Once the ritual was completed, he deftly whipped out a bunch of the Sh50 notes and surrendered them to a waiting gang leader who assured him of their support to Kanu on Kipipiri in 1995.
Welcome to the world of Stanley Munga Githunguri, the ever-calculating banker and broker who banked on politics to secure his business interests.
At the time, he had hedged his bets on Kanu at a time when the whole of Central Province was fanatically behind Kenneth Matiba. Behind the warm smile and the benevolent crown of white hair were nerves of steel.
This was a man who, as District Officer in Chuka, Meru, kicked out a magistrate from a government house after the latter freed 400 tax evaders he had arrested. Githunguri viewed this as an act of subversion since he had a tax target to meet. When he took the magistrate to his boss, Eliud Mahihu, he was ordered to apologise.
Githunguri refused, leading to a stalemate that would be unlocked by the Chief Magistrate who counselled that the matter be forgotten. To get even, Mahihu ordered the insolent DO to change the curtains of his house to create the right ambience for President Jomo Kenyatta to enjoy tea in his residence. Githunguri retorted that he could not afford new curtains on his salary.
This marked the beginning of the end of his career in provincial administration. Mahihu had him transferred to Isiolo but he worked his way to Coast where he doubled as a DO and an irrigator of throats from his palm wine [mnazi] bar.
Shortly after, he resigned and joined the National Bank of Kenya where he would later irritate Kenyatta for offering him a meagre interest on his cash deposits but charging him expensively for a loan.
He nevertheless used his closeness to circumvent the law which prohibited the construction of more than five floors in the city because of a 1954 by-law. To be exempted to build 16 floors that constitute the iconic Lilian Towers hotel that overlooks Central Police Station, Githunguri enlisted the services of Kenyatta who bulldozed then Mayor of Nairobi, Andrew Ngumba, to change the by-law.
So close was he with Kenyatta that the mayor took the building plans to Kenyatta’s office where Githunguri was waiting. His luck would run out after Kenyatta’s death for he was unsuccessfully hunted down by the new administration for breaking foreign exchange regulations but he found refuge in court.