Former powerful Local Government minister Moses Budamba Mudavadi had more than Sh13 million in his bank accounts by the time he died on February 7, 1989.
The alumnus of Maseno and Alliance schools as well as Leeds and Harvard universities died at the Nairobi Hospital. He did not leave a written will, which put his Sh30 million estate at stake.
But an agreement would be swiftly reached among family members that his two wives – Hannah and Rosebella – would retain the patriarch’s life interests and share them equally among their respective children.
At a time when few of Kenya’s elite could afford to hold foreign denomination accounts in banks abroad, ‘King Mululu’, as he was nicknamed, had not one but two sterling pound accounts.
The first held at Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom had £18,019.03 while a second in the same bank had £100.
He also had three local accounts, including a fixed deposit account at the National Bank of Kenya with Sh13,175,016.
The family had also listed another account held at Standard Bank but later requested the court to exclude it from his estate after the Kanu party’s Kakamega sub-branch treasurer, R Otutu, told them it was a party account.
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Mr Mudavadi’s assets included a Sh2.5 million farm at Kapkoi scheme in Kitale and a house in Nairobi’s Lavington estate.
The estate, named after Leeward Islands Governor Baron Lavington – a scion of a wealthy British family – was where the wealthy lived in post-independent Kenya.
Mudavadi also had an interest in oil marketing. Court papers seeking administration of his estate revealed that he owned a petrol station in Kisumu.
The land where his wives shared his love and raised their children was worth Sh2 million.
“After termination of the widows’ respective life interests, the children within each house to share equally the residue estate,” succession documents prepared by Kaplan & Stratton Advocates read.
At the time of his death, his son Wycliffe Musalia was 29 years old. The youngest of his 12 siblings, Gertrude, was 16 years.
Court records reveal that while the family chose Musalia and Geoffrey Mudavadi to act as the estate’s administrators, they were also required to provide guarantors.
“The family had unanimously agreed that the sons should, jointly with the widows, administer the estate. The peaceful and non-contentious approach to the administration of the estate should be encouraged and facilitated by the courts,” a letter written to the court’s registrar read.
The guarantors who pledged security were former Local Government minister Musikari Kombo and current Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina.
They agreed to share the burden in the event the administrators breached their duties hence leading to losses in the estate.
“We are the proposed sureties on behalf of Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi and Geoffrey Mudavadi… We will, when lawfully required to do so, make good any loss which any person interested in the administration of the estate of the deceased may suffer in consequence of the breach of the administrators of their duty,” a guarantee by the sureties read in part.
However, the liability would not exceed Sh20 million.
Musikari and Maina also swore that they would diligently give to the court a full inventory of the estate whenever they were required to do so.
However, the family lawyers felt that Musalia, who was then serving as a Cabinet minister in charge of Supplies and Marketing, did not need to provide a surety.
To buttress the importance of hearing the family’s application for letters of administration, sent during the court’s vacation time, Musalia swore an affidavit saying his siblings required school fees, insurance, food and general upkeep.
He also attached documents indicating that he required fees for his sister, who was then studying in the United States.
“The urgency of this matter is such that it cannot wait until the High Court resumes its summer vacation on September 16, 1989,” said Musalia.
The family would be back in court in 2010, after Major (rtd) Thuo Kimari, who was the husband of Musalia’s sister Mary, sought a share of what she would have received from her father’s estate.
Mary and Thuo married in 1992 and had two children by the time she died on April 1, 2003. Mr Thuo told the court that before Mary’s death, she had told him that she had not received her full share of inheritance from the administrators.
He added that he had also learnt that the Mudavadis had sold a plot in Westlands for Sh65 million.
“I am apprehensive that the administrators sought to do this by keeping us (him and the two children) in the dark in order to disinherit our family their rightful share to the estate. We have not done anything wrong so that the administrators would feel the necessity of disinheriting us,” he claimed.
Thuo’s plea to the court was for his in-laws to account fully for the estate’s shares to him and any proceeds of sales. And after that, he wanted a share of what his wife would have received from her family.
The administrators amicably agreed that their lawyers would release bank statements indicating the monies held in favour of Mary’s estate within 14 days.
They also agreed to give her two children a share of their grandfather’s estate as had been agreed by the parties.
Mary’s daughter would get her share within 21 days while her son’s share would be invested in an account jointly held by him, the High Court registrar and Thuo until he attained the age of 18.