His name may not ring a bell for millennials, but to those born before the 1980s, the late Kungu Stephen was a business icon. Kungu, who died on April 6, 2015, made a mark in real estate and the hospitality industry in Nairobi and Nakuru, leaving behind a Sh50 billion empire. He owned a number of hotels, real estate, prime lands and other high end properties across the two counties.
A man of humble beginnings, Kungu started off as a civic leader in the former Nakuru district and later became a member of the Ministry of Commerce-scheme for Assistance of African Industrialists, Artisan and Businessmen.
He would later quit public engagements to start his first business, a butchery, in Nairobi's Central Business District. The butchery business, according to a eulogy read at his funeral, transitioned into a hotel. His business skills saw him become among the first Kenyans to venture into tourism, establishing classic hotels and entertainment joints.
Hotel Kunste: an acronym of Kungu Stephen
In Nakuru, Kungu established Pivot Hotel and later Hotel Kunste (an acronym of Kungu Stephen) and an entertainment joint known as Coco Savannah. In Nairobi he has Terminal 2 (formerly Monte Carlo Hotel).
He also owned Parklands Villa, three house blocks in Hurlingham Luthuli house, apartments and flats in Ngara, Ambassador Court near Integrity Centre in Nairobi and Ojijo Plaza which generate more than Sh2 million per month.
He owned acres of land in Nakuru, Nyahururu, Gilgil and Kiambu. Kung'u died without leaving behind a will or succession plan which led to a bitter fallout and endless court cases among family members. His daughters Naomi Wambui, Rahab Wamucii and Bilha Wanjiku, whom he bore with his second wife Joyce Wanjiru went to court in 2016. They accused their stepmother of sabotaging the business.
According to court documents, the trio alleged that the children of Kungu's first wife were interfering with their ownership of Monte Carlo Club, which eventually saw them kicked out. They proceeded to rename the club as Terminal 2 and collected rent from the property physically to avoid a paper trail. The case is still in court.
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