Simon Kabu is known as the man who surprised his wife, Sarah, with a Range Rover as a birthday gift in July but in the business world, the Kabus are the proprietors of Bonfire Adventures. Simon talks to Gardy Chacha about life, business, marriage and the Sh20 million gift
How has life been since the Range Rover gift?
We have been well. The gift was not meant to make our marriage better per se: my wife has always been good to me.
How is business doing currently?
The political climate is making things very difficult. I am in the tourism industry and as you know since political tensions rose we have less activities taking place.
What do you think is the solution for the stalemate?
I think Kenyans need to understand politicians for who they are: it is their job to politic. We should however not allow them to take charge of our conscience and ability to reason. We only have one country and we can’t afford to let slip into a state that would jeopardise our well-being.
You think we, as citizens, are to blame?
Frankly, we are in this all of us. We can’t apportion blame to individuals. We will also need to work together in making sure that we grow together as a nation.
What do you love about Kenya?
Kenya is generally a beautiful country. Beyond that, I have noticed that as much as we have people who hold extreme opinions, there is a surge of independent thinkers among us – those who are measured in language. That is a good thing.
Let’s go back to the gift: have you always bought birthday gifts for your wife?
Yes. The gift usually comes in various forms. It could be an actual gift, or we may even travel somewhere.
This year’s gift was out of this world?
It may look that way but don’t get it wrong: the gift is symbolic; it is a gesture. It is not about how costly it is. A man may buy his wife something much cheaper and she will be overjoyed by it. What counts is how you make her feel.
How much did the Range Rover cost?
About Sh20 million – I can’t tell you the exact figure.
Did you set out this year to just buy her the most expensive thing you could think of?
No. But she deserves the Range Rover and more.
Explain, ‘she deserves it’.
Our love started from humble beginnings. I was a Matatu tout on route 44. I didn’t have much. Yet, she loved me the way I was. I am where I am today because of her. Even in the business, with her as the MD and me as the CEO, we have worked incredibly well to come this far. Come to think of it, companies buy their CEOs cars: why wouldn’t my wife deserve one after working so hard for this company? We’ve been married for 9 years now and are blessed with two kids. These are things to celebrate.
There are people who after the birthday glitz believe that your marriage is perfect: that you don’t squabble
There is no such thing as perfect couple. We are like any other couple. Marriage is built on understanding and communication. There were sacrifices that both of us had to make. When we started the business we would burn the mid-night oil trying to make things work. Sometimes we even slept hungry, as the business was not making much, and we stuck to each other despite everything.
How do you solve your disagreements?
We communicate. We talk and agree on a way forward. We try to sort out issues as quickly as possible.
You have never found your wife nagging?
We are friends and friends never nag. We are married but we live like friends. There are days that we just say we go out and we go on a getaway.
It seems that you love buying gifts for your wife
Because gifts are symbolic. A gift says a lot. It tells her that you care; that you are thinking about her. And whenever she looks at it she will remember for the rest of her life.
There are women who say you are just the right kind of man to marry. Does that make you feel good?
They should go and get a man, work hard together, hustle through life together, and help that man become the kind of man that can buy a Range Rover. It is very unlikely that a man who is able to afford (for a girl) a Range Rover, and is not married, is doing legit business. A man who buys a Range Rover for their wife has been moulded over time.
If your wife now drives a Sh20 million Range Rover, what car are you driving?
I drive a Toyota. My car is an off-road vehicle. It is not as pricey as the Range Rover but that does not bother me a bit. My wife and I don’t compete: she is driving what she wants and I am driving what I want.
You have been very successful in Business to be able to buy a Sh20 million gift. Any business advice for our readers?
Try to be original. Be unique. Start your business from the point of need – so that you have a customer base for what you will be producing. Don’t copy others because copying has never worked.
Was the birthday fanfare a surprise?
It was a total surprise.
How did you pull it off?
I organised and planned for it myself – with the help of one person that I trusted that wouldn’t tell prematurely. I organised the camera work and the motorcade. I bought the cake and had already organised for the car to be delivered. As the motorcade was passing by, and we were at the balcony of our office building, I called my wife over to witness a ‘demonstration’. She actually believed it was a demonstration. Then she saw the cake and the car written ‘Happy birthday’.