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First trader to put up storied building in Kirinyaga passes on

Within the contemporary Embu district, no one had ever invested in putting up a storeyed building.

Storeyed buildings were only common in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru though outside the capital cities, such buildings were still very few. That was the case with Kirinyaga which was by then a division of the larger Embu district which also included Mbeere.

But after independence, Kirinyaga was hived off from Embu and elevated to a district by itself.

At the time, only small shops which had the Asian design (four walls and rusty roofs), dotted most of the markets in the area.

But one entrepreneur, Evan Muchina Gichuki, decided to change the face of Kerugoya town and put up a three storeyed building right in the Central Business District (CBD).

It was the first such building in the entire district and due to its towering size that dwarfed all other business premises, it became a distinctive feature in the area.

Little did he know that the building would become a center of attraction to many locals who had never in their lifetime seen or gotten closer to such a building.

“Curious onlookers would walk from all corners of the district to come and see for themselves the three storeyed building Muchina had put up in the town since most of them had only heard from those who had worked in Nairobi that there were storied buildings,” recalled Mzee Evan Mbogo, a local trader.

Muchina ventured into retail business in the town upon early retirement from the Civil Service and among his associates were, Evan Mbogo and Karubiu wa Munyi whom he later met in the local political field.

Muchina born in 1946 in a humble family it would emerge was also among the first traders in the district to venture into the little known or unheard of matatu business.

Due to his sharp entrepreneurial skills, Muchina also ventured into the lucrative matatu business during those early days connecting Kerugoya-Karatina and Gitumbi route.

Among those with whom he pioneered the matatu business were Douglas Kuria and his brother, Ndiga wa Kagunda, Machere Muru wa Wangithi and Bernard  Thiga only later to open curio shops at the capital Nairobi to enable him venture into international trade.

“This enabled him to travel to places like Yemen, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Hong Kong, Burundi, Cameroon among other overseas countries,” recalled his wife, Anna Muthoni.

Kagunda’s matatu was christened ‘Single Boy’ and was the favourite of many travelers while that of Muchina went by the name Holiday Travelers.

While in Nairobi, Muchina operated the Holiday Curio and Crafts business along Banda street while his contemporaries in this multi-million trade were, Gachuhi Murathe, the father of the Jubilee Vice Chairman, David Murathe, S.M. Marina and the likes of Johnston Muthama who was involved in gem stone trade.

Muchina  would later venture into elective politics and served as the Civic leader for the Kerugoya Central Ward for a record two five year terms.

He  rose during his second term as civic leader to the position of the Deputy Mayor for the defunct Kerugoya-Kutus Municipal Council.

“A leader and entrepreneur par excellence, Muchina had great vision and development consciousness and his no nonsense and charismatic character made people admire him alongside his high principles,” Mbogo summed up at his funeral ceremony held at his Gitumbi rural home on Saturday.

He is survived by his wife, Muthoni and several children scattered in Australia, Nigeria and locally among them Eric Muchina who works at the Kirinyaga County Assembly Service Board.

By  Irungu  Mwangi

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