In this poor, woebegone planet, Christopher ‘Chris’ Getonga tends to maw joy from the jaws of mundane things. For one he is a father. A father of one. It is great he tells me.
Except when my daughter says, “Papa, you know you are old but you look so young!” Another, he has dabbled in many things pharmaceutical—despite not being a pharmacist—and at the behest of his mother, studying for a Mathematics degree.
He is the founder of Acacia Medical Centre. He then started Mimosa Pharmacy, which at one time was making sales of over Sh1 million a day. He sold his majority stake and Mimosa became GoodLife Pharmacy.
He has investments in frozen food and catering businesses. He serves on several boards of directors in Kenya and was previously a nominated councillor in Nairobi.
During the day he is the marionettist, pulling the strings as the chairperson of the End Malaria Council, which is where I meet him, as we make fun of his daughter and he makes sense of his life.
Yet another, he likes to laugh. The 60-year-old lover of wine has a booming, beautiful, baritone voice.
His laughter sounds like someone threw a hand grenade and killed four people, and then the grenade exploded.
But it is his skin, like the colour of a well-aged mahogany, that will turn you green. He doesn’t know it—or pretends not to—but he just might be God’s favourite.
That skin. Are you a gym guy?
Yes, I go to the gym four times a week. Except during the weekends.
What gives on the weekend?
Well, Fridays we go out to dinner with my wife and daughter. When most guys are with the dudes, I am with my family.
Between Saturday and Sunday however, I am a pretty social butterfly and that means I am either getting invited to an event or we are hosting one.
Are you a church person?
I will say I worship. I am a Catholic and I have been trying to get my daughter to join the church but I am facing resistance. Teenagers huh?
Do you have a special treat for your family?
We look toward dinner on Friday evenings. We travel a lot - outside the country at least once a year and to the Kenyan coastal region about six times a year.
Is there a treat you do just for yourself over the weekend?
On Sunday mornings I read all the papers I have accumulated during the week.
Tell me about a memorable Sunday growing up as a child.
I like dogs so I would spend all my weekends with dogs. We have three dogs now; Billy, a chocolate Labrador, Simba, and Chui who are both German Shepherds.
When you think of the weekend what food springs to mind?
Italian food. You will find me especially slurping at Nico’s (La Casa Di Nico Ristorante) at the Village Market, and sometimes at The Craft Centre near the American Embassy.
Are you a weekend planner or spontaneous?
I am a planner. By Thursday I know what is going to happen on my weekends. However, I don’t like going out by myself.
I like having lunch by myself. But in the evenings, I like to talk. And you can’t talk alone, can you?
What’s your weekend soundtrack?
I love music. In my house, music can be heard all over, including in my bathroom and kitchen. And I like all music genres; amapiano, soft rock, name it.
What is the one thing you wish you could do better over the weekend?
Rest a little bit more. I am always busy. My daughter keeps saying, “Dad can you just stay home one weekend!”
What’s the favourite part of your home?
The patio. There, we have a very large dining room that can sit at least eight people. And we have a compound with about 70 trees.
What is the last thing you do before the lights go out?
I watch a bit of TV and the news. And movies. I like action movies, Jason Statham's especially.
What's the last movie you watched?
Yesterday I was watching Golden Compass starring Daniel Craig. I haven’t finished it yet.
Are you a hands-on guy?
Do you ever cook for the family?
No, but I love good food. I may not know how to cook good food, but I have surrounded myself with good cooks in the guise of my wife and daughter. Another win.
Do you pick up work calls over the weekend?
It’s (phone) not very busy nowadays but if they do, it’s because they need to call me. So, if something goes wrong, and I am called I, I know it’s important.
What’s your go-to weekend outfit?
I am a jeans and tee-shirt guy.
Do you have a favourite weekend memory with your family?
I have many, but mostly it’s the weekends when we are out of Nairobi. The last place we were was Mauritius, and we went everywhere together.
What’s the one activity you all did together?
Well, my WhatsApp profile picture shows us on a boat.
What’s the one thing you can’t miss during the weekend?
I love my red wine.
Sweet or dry?
No-brainer, dry of course.
Give me a weekend hack that not many people know.
I would say spend time with the people you love.
What are you reading now?
#YouthCan by Lizz Ntonjira. She actually signed it for me. Very dynamic woman.
What is the one lesson you picked from the book?
It’s the stories of youth and how they are so focused.