Thursday, June 8, 2023

Johnstone Muthama: A Class 7 Dropout Who Became a Prominent Billionaire

By Jane Muia

Ex-Machakos Senator Johnson Nduya Muthama is by far one of the richest politicians in Kenya. A man who left schooling in Primary Standard 7 “because of lack of school fees,” Muthama surprises many with his prowess in the English language and mastery of the mining business.

His entry to richness started counting way back in his teenage life. Muthama is reported to have visited his uncle Francis Kalinzoya, a mineral dealer who worked in the Taita Taveta mines, where he landed a job as a tea boy.

Over time, Muthama, mastered the cores of the mining business before engaging himself in the dirty mining pits and emerged with precious stones, notably Ruby, that are more valuable than Gold.

From ‘mutura’ hawker to multi-million entrepreneur – a school dropout’s journey

The Ruby mines were initially owned by two Americans, Geologist John Saul and his partner Eliot Miller who were deported after the government discovered that the foreigners were milling millions Kenyan soil. The then president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, ordered the two to be deported, noting that foreigners had no right to exploit Kenya’s mineral resources for their sole benefit.

Saul later returned to the country after Kenyatta’s death and continued with his mining business. He owned a company called Rockland International Corporation that was later sold to Muthama, a deal that would see him inherit the Ruby mines.

He renamed the company Rockland Kenya Limited and continued with the trading of the precious ruby stone. Usually red in colour, the ruby stone is used in the manufacture of high-end pieces of Jewelry that are associated with the rich worldwide. The stone is, however, rare to find. In Kenya, it is found in Kitui, Taita Taveta, Baringo, Kwale and West Pokot.

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Muthama’s vast, steadily growing company is expansive encompassing Aquamarine, Spinel, Tanzanite, Tsavorite, Amethyst, Red Garnet, and Colour Change Garnet, which are all used in the manufacture of Jewelry. He found this business lucrative and never looked back.

He expanded to gemstone mining which he has traded for over 30 years. Known as a fine jewel, a gemstone is also a mineral crystal used to manufacture Jewelry and adornments.The mining business lifted Muthama from the typical school dropout to one of the richest politicians in the country.

He owns several homes in high-end estates, including Runda, Muthaiga, Nyali, Machakos, and Kangundo. His investments in mining, agriculture, and real estate is estimated at over KSh 6.5 billion. The tycoon also owns Nina Marie Ltd, a clothing, footwear, and leather business.

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