Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi dies at 80


Businessman Chris Kirubi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Billionaire investor Chris Kirubi has died at his home on Monday afternoon at the age of 80.

Kirubi had been fighting cancer since 2016.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr Christopher J. Kirubi, who passed away today at 1pm at his home after a long battle with cancer fought with fortitude, grace and courage,” announced Capital FM, which he owned, quoting his family.

Kirubi had investments in many publicly traded and private companies, including Centum #ticker:CTUM where he was the single-largest shareholder, International House and agrochemical firm Bayer East Africa.

A prolific businessman and industrialist, Kirubi held leadership positions in at least 10 companies and organisations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogised him as an approachable and accessible corporate leader who loved people and interacted with all Kenyans.

"I have received the shocking news of the passing away of my friend Chris Kirubi with a lot of sadness. The cruel hand of death has robbed our nation of a patriot whose entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and determination saw him create some of our country's largest enterprises which offer employment to thousands of our people," the President mourned.

"Chris was one of the most accessible corporate leaders Kenya has ever produced. He interacted with everybody and would show up in places where he was least expected. He interacted with Kenyans, especially the youth, on his radio shows, public appearances and writings, through which he shared his experiences in business and life," Mr Kenyatta recalled.

In an exclusive interview with BDLife in January 2020, Kirubi shared about his battle with cancer and his thoughts on death.

"One thing I’ve come to discover is that in the end, you’re alone. Your friends may love you, but eventually, you have to deal with your sickness personally. You think about the past, the things that you could have done, the things that you have not done, and what you can do to compensate for things you ignored. It is a time of reflection. And prayers from friends do help, a lot," he told Jackson Biko. 

"Death is rest. A rest from daily hustles. This is something that is irreversible. You’re born, you grow, you die. In the end, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter the age or what you do to try and elongate your life." 

READ: Chris Kirubi’s narrow path to success

His diverse business interests ranged from broadcasting, Capital Media Group to manufacturing, Haco Tiger Brands. 

He once said that property was the foundation of his business empire and International House in Nairobi’s Central Business District is one of his most iconic investments.

Through Centum Investments, he owned East Africa’s most ambitious property developments including Two Rivers in Gigiri and the Pearl Marina Project in Uganda.

He leaves behind two children, Robert Kirubi and Mary-Ann Musangi.

Centum said details of his funeral would be announced later.