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Wife and driver of missing Thika trader under probe

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The wife of Thika millionaire Julius Gitau is now under investigation as detectives seek to unravel the mystery surrounding the businessman’s disappearance.

Police say Lucy Wahu and the trader’s driver, Geoffrey Wachira, are now persons of interest as the probe enters day 24.

The two might have crucial information about his whereabouts, Gatanga Police boss Peter Mucheru told the Nation Tuesday.

“The two reported Gitau as missing at around 4pm. Of great interest is that they indicated Gitau’s age to be 60 whereas we have since confirmed that he was born in 1976; he is 44. We are faced with an unlikely situation where Wahu does not know the age of her husband,” he said.

Ms Wahu said they boarded a matatu at Ndururumo terminus to Thika town, where they opened their two wholesale shops at 8am. They used public transport since Gitau’s vehicles were out of petrol, she claimed.

Disputed narrative

However, Kiambu Business Community Chairman Alfred Wanyoike disputed the narrative “since all his eight vehicles were in good condition”.

“The wife’s claim that he (Gitau) lacked petrol to fuel his cars is weird. In the two shops, his employees say he did not show up,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Missing trader: Focus now turns to life cover theory

Wahu and Wachira also told police that Gitau drove an old truck from one of the shops to a gym about three kilometres away at around 9.30am. However, there is no evidence he showed up at the said gym.

“Their story doesn’t make sense. Why would a man who owned two cars choose to drive a truck used for supplies to the gym? I don’t believe him,” said Mr Wanyoike.

Mr Wachira, who is Wahu’s nephew, then claimed that Gitau called and instructed him to collect the truck from Blue Post Hotel at around 10am.

“He told us that he found Gitau’s phone ringing inside the cabin and switched it off. He also found a masking tape and a suicide note that hinted that its author had lost hope in life due to financial stress and had decided to jump into a river. Strangely, Wachira did not see any urgency to report the matter,” said Mr Mucheru.

The suicide note has since been dismissed by investigators as “a mismatch since it was not authored by Gitau”.

 “The emerging issues now strongly point to a conspiracy theory that puts his wife and the driver in the middle of it. The two are the only ones aware whether Gitau is dead or alive,” Mr Mucheru said.

READ ALSO:   Patrick Amoth: The village boy who rose to represent Africa in top World body

Bad blood

Gitau’s mother, Rosemary Wanjiru, 68, the business community and close friends claim there’s bad blood between Ms Wahu and her two co-wives.

The frosty relations are blamed for the continued closure of his businesses since they are yet to agree on who among them should be the estate’s acting administrator in their husband’s absence.

But Godfrey Kahuthu, a Thika-based lawyer, has urged the police to widen their scope and consider Gitau’s disappearance a possible case of murder.

“Police should stop treating Gitau only as missing. The issue is of great criminal dimensions touching on possible abduction, murder or a grand conspiracy to spread panic and despondency. They should start raiding houses,” said Mr Kahuthu.

Mr Gitau, whose business empire runs under the name Jugi Investments, was brought up in Kaharati village, Kigumo Sub-County, Murang’a County.

After completing his primary schooling, Gitau left home and ended up in Thika in 1992 where he became a hawker. He was an 18-year-old then.

“From a Sh100 daily profit from hawking, Mr Gitau worked his way up financially.

“He had opened several kiosks by 2000, dealing in general merchandise,” Mr Wanyoike added.

“By 2005, he had opened two wholesale outlets, which performed very well, catapulting him into the millionaires’ club.”

READ ALSO:   Things get thick in Thika: Missing millionaire was heavily indebted

by Nation.co.ke

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Lifestyle

Tweeting chief Francis Kariuki is dead

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Nakuru’s Lanet Umoja location Chief Francis Kariuki, popularly known as the ‘tweeting chief’, is dead.

His family said he died at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he was rushed to for emergency treatment after experiencing breathing difficulties.

The tweeting chief died at the age of 55 years.

“My father fell ill on Tuesday and we first took him to Evans Sunrise Hospital in Nakuru before he was referred to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, where he passed on, while receiving treatment,” his son, Ken Kariuki, told the Nation on phone.

His daughter revealed that Chief Kariuki has been ailing from diabetes for a long time.

The tech-savvy village chief of Lanet Umoja was known for using Twitter and other social media platforms to discharge his duties.

He received global attention in 2014 for using Twitter to fight crime.

Mr Kariuki led a community of more than 30,000 residents.

Via text message

His Twitter account shows he has about 60,000 followers and those who receive his tweets via text message are said to be in the thousands.

Subscribers get his tweets in real-time via free text messages and don’t need to have a Twitter account or an internet connection.

READ ALSO:   Missing trader: Focus now turns to life cover theory

The chief could send them at any time of the day or night using his smartphone.

By the time of his death,

‘s tweeting had reduced the crime rate in Lanet Umoja.

He also used Twitter to encourage unemployed youth through messages of hope.

Early life

He was born and raised in Nakuru and attended Mereroni Primary School. He later joined Lanet Secondary School and Kigari Teachers Training College later.

He taught for 21 years in different schools as a teacher, four years as a deputy head teacher and six years as a head teacher at Lords School, Kambi Moto in Rongai Sub-County.

In 2009, he became the first chief of Lanet Umoja.

In 2015, he graduated with a degree in Counseling Psychology from Mount Kenya University, which he had been pursuing through virtual learning.

by nation.co.ke

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Keeping our family coffee business picking

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When 41 -year-old Gitau Waweru Karanja was a boy, he recalls spending his school holidays in his grandfather’s coffee farm with his cousins. His late grandmother would push them to pick berries to earn pocket money. Though he took up his parents’ passion in interior design and studied Interior Design in Kwa Zulu Natal University in South Africa, he did he know that one day he would wake up and smell the coffee and participate in running his grandfather’s coffee farm.

Gitau is the third generation of his family to manage Karunguru Farm, which belonged to his late grandfather Geoffrey Kareithi. Kareithi had bought the 300-acre farm in Ruiru, from a white settler in 1972. Gitau is married to Wangeci Gitau who grew up in Maragwa, in Murang’a where they also had a coffee farm.

Values instilled

For Wangeci, despite growing up in the coffee fields, she was more passionate about tourism and was a travel consultant before becoming a tour manager at a local company.

In 2012, she got an ectopic pregnancy, which put her on bed rest and thus was compelled to quit her job. When she recovered, she began assisting her husband. “By that time, my husband was selling modern house doors, but the business took a while to pick. Then we began selling milk from Karunguru Farm, but the milk production went down in 2016. The management, comprising of family members, told us to address the issue by becoming dairy managers. But when we joined the management of Karunguru Farm, we saw an opportunity in coffee tours,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Patrick Amoth: The village boy who rose to represent Africa in top World body

Taking cue from South Africa where they do wine tourism and also export wine, Gitau and his wife sought to use that knowledge in their coffee farm. “We started Karunguru Coffee and Tours after we found out that despite it being our main export, it was being underutilised when it comes to tourism. So, here we take visitors through the journey that coffee has to go through before getting to your cup,” explains Gitau. Everything is done in Karunguru Farm— including value addition such as processing coffee, drying and even roasting. “We have our very own packaged Karunguru Coffee, which is available in the market,” he adds.

Their late grandfather instilled in them a love for each other and every holiday it is the family culture to meet and bond as a family. The grandpa also ensured that the farm management is shared amongst all his seven children who meet every week to discuss the business of the farm. Once they come to an unanimous decision, it is then passed on to their children, who implements their decision.

Before one is given any role, you have _ . to be qualified for the position. “It’s not about being favoured, but your qualification. I am in tourism, so I handle the tourism aspect, my husband is in operations. In fact, one applies for the position and then you are interviewed. If you qualify, you are placed on probation until the management is satisfied that you can handle the role well,” says Wangeci.

READ ALSO:   Missing trader: Focus now turns to life cover theory

No entitlement

What makes family business go down is the fact that people who are less qualified are employed. Other people have to cover up for their messes and this creates bitterness and conflict. Gitau sometimes watches his nephews and nieces in the farm, giving them roles to check out whether they have interest in the farm or not before beginning to mentor them. Everyone begins from the lowest level and must know how to roast, pack, as well as prepare a cup of Karunguru coffee. This is to en inculcate the spirit of appreciation and value for the workers employed to do the role.

“My uncles always tell us that we didn’t come in the business because we are their children, but because of the passion we had in the business. With that, entitlement is killed and we ensure that we do our best to take the farm to higher levels,” says Gitau

They don’t entertain gossip,  ‘‘ but if someone has an issue, I then the person is invited ‘ to a meeting where one is confronted and told in love where they have missed the mark.

by PD.co.ke

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How we solved thorny issues in our not-so-rosy union

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Robert Wambugu and Lucy Wambui’s marriage has been a bitter-sweet experience. When their firstborn son was a toddler, he almost drowned in a basin full of water.

“The water had been stored on the corridor and the young boy sneaked out of the house. Within a split of a second, he had fallen head first and was in there for almost a minute before we were alerted by other children. He passed out, but was saved by quick intervention from a nearby hospital,” Lucy says.

Lucy says they faced a lot of challenges driven by their lack of marriage experience due to their young age. She was 20, Robert was 21. “We had not received proper counselling and did not know how to handle our personality differences. Let’s just say we were clueless of what was ahead of us. We used to have endless arguments, long weeks without speaking to each other and so on. It wasn’t until we got support from a neighbour who cared and counselled us,” she says.

Making it work

They worked on improving their communication and openness to each other. She offers: “We started giving each other constructive feedback that builds someone rather than hurt them emotionally. We stopped pointing fingers at faults and started addressing the issue rather than attacking the person. For instance, Robert was forgetful. At first, this used to make me think he was deliberately ignoring me and I would choose to just stay quiet and ‘payback’. But one time he told me he would start working on a “To do list” and once he started it, I saw great improvement. He also asked me to be sending him reminders on pending stuff. This way, we were able to handle that issue once and for all. On the other hand, I would prepare food that he didn’t like and he would not eat it. I would feel like he was eating elsewhere. At one time, I asked him to recommend what he prefers and how he liked it made. It took time to understand and master this, but it was worth it.”

READ ALSO:   Things get thick in Thika: Missing millionaire was heavily indebted

Lucy and Robert also worked on their decision-making, as well as teamwork, and from that point things changed for the better.

Other challenges have arisen when they had to juggle between work and raising children. “Sometimes as a working parent, you realise you have to spend time with your children and establish a personal connection. For me, this is important and if I have to work from home to do this, I do not mind doing so. But it can be quite overwhelming,” she adds.

Lucy and Robert both live in Rwanda. They have been married for 11 years and have three children-two boys, Arthur aged 10, Fabrice aged seven and a girl, Ashe Wambui aged 1.5 years. Lucy runs a cake business while Robert works as a Certified Hospitality Training Manager at Marriot International, and is also an experienced digital marketer and art director. She is also a co-director at Halleria Consult, a marketing consulting agency they started together with her husband. He is the country manager in charge of overall operations of the consultancy.

They also mentor young couples on marriage and parenting.

Lucy terms her husband as her greatest support system. “He has been supportive in raising the children. He spends his free time with them. On the other hand, when we visit our parents in Nairobi, we ensure that the children spend time with their grandparents. I get tips from our parents from both sides and I ensure they communicate as often so that they build that bond. I have also taken part in a programme called ‘Mother of Sons’ that focuses on mothers who are raising boys. It gives mums the space to learn how to handle boys’ challenges as well as bringing up men who are well nurtured,” she says.

READ ALSO:   Missing trader: Focus now turns to life cover theory

Discovering children’s potential

Their parenting approach is centred on raising children who understand between right and wrong and are able to make independent and right choices. Lucy is a disciplinarian. “I don’t shy away from using the rod where necessary. But I spend time trying to find effective non-authoritarian ways to help mentor them, especially in matters self-confidence and life skills,” she reveals.

Her husband, however, uses a different approach. He uses experiential learning techniques where through observation, he has identified some interests in them. Both boys love using 3D modelling software and have basic photography skills. He spends time training them. “We thank God that this strategy has helped them learn and be responsible. We also encourage them to go out and play and develop a social life. The first one is an extrovert. He makes friends quite easily while the second one is an introvert who prefers staying indoors. The last one is starting the ‘terrible two phase’, always throwing tantrums,” Lucy says.

Lucy’s word of advise to couples and parents is: “Love, support your spouse and walk with them. You don’t get into a relationship to attain happiness. Rather make it your role to create an environment that sustains joy. If this is done, it’s easier to get the other person to reciprocate. Before you point fingers at your spouse, first do a self-analysis and see what you would do to work on yourself and improve. That way, we shall have happier relationships.”

READ ALSO:   Patrick Amoth: The village boy who rose to represent Africa in top World body

By PD.co.ke

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