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Gardener: I blew away Sh600,000 within a year

By Phares Mutembei | August 1st 2016

When his employer gave him Sh600,000, everyone thought this would mark an end to a life of misery for James Kimathi.

His sister, Hellen, who also worked for an American known as Mr Anderson, was given a cheque of a similar amount when their boss decided to go back home due to poor health.

However, all that Kimathi, who worked as a gardener at Anderson’s home, has to show for his benefactor’s generosity is a food kiosk in a slum in Rongai.While his sister bought land and settled down, James acquired new friends who helped him blow away the money.

He had planned to buy land. However, he instead became a regular visitor to local bars and before he knew it, he did not have even a shilling. Kimathi cannot explain how he spent the money.

“I spent the money foolishly and within one year, I was a beggar once again,” Kimathi told The Standard.

It all started in 2010. Anderson had been in Kenya since 1975, and at 80, he decided to return to America. Kimathi’s family and friends expected him to invest the money.


“Anderson was increasingly growing weak, that is when he decided to spend his final years his home country. My sister had been using the money she earned to educate us,” said Kimathi.

Earlier, Anderson had given Hellen Sh500,000. She bought land in Chuka where she grew maize, which she sold to her employer who had a factory that made popcorn, peanut butter and juice. Hellen had worked for him for 18 years.

However, before he left, Anderson called Kimathi and Hellen and handed each a cheque of Sh600,000. He also gave them all his furniture and electronic goods.

“The only thing he sold to a friend was his Mercedes Benz. He also carried his art collection with him,” Kimathi said.

When he first received the money, Kimathi’s plan was to buy land. “I did not get to buy the land. I got myself new furniture, a TV set and some other items,” says Kimathi.

“For sure, I spent the money badly. I made some trips back home during which I wasted a lot of money. I also gave loans to some friends, some refused to pay back,” says Kimathi.

“I don’t know what exactly happened to that money. But I know some of it went to pay bride price, although I later separated with my wife. Due to stress, part of the money went to beer,” he says.

He added: “This was during my period of frustration after my wife left with my children. I sought refuge in the bottle. I even slept in bars. I should have done better,I really regret.”

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