It is no secret that large tracts of land in Kenya are owned by the elite especially from the political sphere.
While Kenyans struggle to buy small pieces of land, a few rich people own almost half of the country.
According to the Kenya Land Alliance, more than a 65% of all arable land in Kenya is in the hands of only 20 per cent of the 35 million Kenyans.
“That has left millions absolutely landless while another 67 per cent on average own less than an acre per person.”
Here’s a list of Kenya’s largest land owners:
1. Kenyatta Family
First on the list is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family which according to him owns at least 30,000 acres of land Taita Taveta.
This he revealed during the 2013 Presidential Debate.
“My family and I own land; we’ve not acquired land illegally but through willing buyer-willing seller basis. There is nothing to prove that my family has illegally acquired land,” he said.
But according to Forbes, the first family owns at least 500,000 in different parts of the country.
In a CIA report made public in 2017, Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, before his death owned about half a dozen properties covering roughly 4,000 hectares.
They were mainly farms in the Rift Valley and in the district of Kiambu where he was born.
“His wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, however, owns at least 115,000 hectares including a 13,000 hectare ranch in the Kiambu district, two tea plantations at Matu and Mangu, and three sisal farms near the Tanzanian border,” the report reads in part.
2. The Moi Family
Former President Daniel Moi was arguably among the richest individuals in Kenya.
The late former head of state’s wealth is valued at roughly Sh310 billion.
The Moi family’s business empire, according to official and non-official records, spans from real estate, transport, education, hotel industry, banking, aviation, manufacturing, media, agri-business, security and construction, among others.
On matters land, the family whose wealth continues to grow owns hundreds of acres of parcels in different parts of the country with a value running into billions of shillings.
Here are some of the pieces of land owned by the Mois;
Bahati in Nakuru-20,000 acres
Kabarak Farm-1,600 acres
Olenguruoni in Rift Valley-20,000 acres
Ol Pajeta Farm-50,000 acres
The Late Daniel Moi. [Courtesy]3. The Kibaki Family
Kenya’s third president, Mwai Kibaki, was an astute businessman who like his predecessors acquired thousands of acres during his time in government.
It is said that the former head of state transferred 10,000 acres to himself via STFS from Bruce McKenzie, then Minister for Agriculture. Kibaki was the Minister for Finance.
He also owns 1,200 acres at Gingalily Farm along the Nakuru-Solai road.
Another 10,000 acres at Igwamiti and the same acreage in Rumuruti in Naivasha plus 1,600 acres Ruare Ranch belong to the former president.
He also acquired 20,000 acres in Nanyuki.
In 2016, Kibaki was set to make a whopping Sh55 billion from the sale of part of his 10,000 acre (Land Reference No. 9366/2) ranch in Nakuru.
An acre was going for Sh11 million.
4. The late Njenga Karume
Before his death in 2012, the former minister’s estate was valued at Sh40 billion.
It’s value has shrunk significantly thanks to legal battles for its control.
The author of Beyond Expectations: From Charcoal to Gold had 25 businesses in total before he succumbed to cancer.
His businesses ranged from the hospitality industry, real estate.
Apart from the well-known Jacaranda Hotel, the shrewd businessman also owned Lake Elementaita Lodge in Nakuru, Indian Ocean Beach Resort and Diani Beach at the Coast.
As for land, Karume owned 20,000 acres in Molo and 16,000 acres in Naivasha.
5. Former Attorney General Charles Njonjo
Always dapper in his “London made” suits, the former Attorney General has risen to be among the richest individuals in Kenya.
At the age of 101, the “Duke of Kabeteshire’s” wealth is valued at Sh7 billion.
He owns the lavish Sankara Hotel, Nairobi College House,Kolobot Gardens and the Norfolk Towers.
As for land, Njonjo owns the 60,000 acre Solio ranch.
In 2016, however, the National Assembly opened a probe into its ownership. There were allegations that the expansive land was owned by the government.
It was said that unscrupulous brokers could have irregularly settled squatters in the land in 2009.
Njonjo is also embroiled in yet another legal battle spanning 48-years against 2,000 farmers registered under Guchokaniriria Kihato Traders and Farmers Company.
The farmers claim the land was given to them by Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
6. The Late Isaiah Mathenge
The late former Provincial Commissioner and Nyeri MP, was President Kibaki’s friend who would later betray him to support President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002.
Before his demise in 2006, the late Mathenge owned 10,000 acres Seremwai Estate and 10,000 Manyagalo Ranch in Meru.
Mathenge was arguably the largest land owner in Nyeri municipality.
7. Samuel Gichuru
The former Kenya Power managing director who ran the government institution to the ground by siphoning billions with the help of then minister Chris Okemo, allegedly owns a Sh20 billion estate.
Through his scheming ways, “Mr Moneybags” was able to move cash to offshore accounts, of which Sh444 million was repatriated to Nairobi.
He owns 10,000 acres Gitomwa Farm.
8. The late Mbiyu Koinange
The former Cabinet minister served in the governments of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi.
His estate as of last year was valued at Sh30 billion.
He owned the 640 acre Closeburn Estate which has since been sold to Aga Khan Group 291 acres, 100 acres to Centum Ltd, and 3 acres to Karuta Community Chapel Registered Trustees.
He also owned 4,292 acres Muthera farm, Ehothia farm 640 acres, Thirstine 267 acres.
He had also acquired 10,000 acres in Mau Narok.
9. Simeon Nyachae
The former Cabinet minister died at the age of 88 on February 1, 2021 with wealth valued at Sh110 billion.
He had a huge stake in Credit Bank with his Sansora Group controlling 14.96 per cent.
Sansora Group has interests in wheat and flour milling via Swan and Kabansora Millers, agriculture, banking and real estate.
It is rumoured that the fallen politician had a ranch in Australia and several tea farms in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In Kenya, however, his Kabansora Holdings owns over 10,000 acres.
10. Willy Komen
The former Rongai MP who died on June 22, 2019, aged 77, left behind 10,000 acres neighbouring late Moi’s Kabarak farm and 4,800 acres in Njoro.
In 2021, however, 11 of his children were yet to agree on a temporary administrator to control his 2,600-acre property in Njoro.