Feared Kenyan tycoon who once placed newspaper advertisement looking for a wife

He bought a gold casket and planned every detail of his burial

A convoy of boda bodas and cars escorts the body of businessman Fai Amario for burial in Naivasha in 2010 (photo courtesy of Nation)

On Monday morning, little known Fai Amario area along the Naivasha-Mai Mahiu became the subject of national headlines after a bridge on the busy highway developed cracks from the earthquake that hit several counties on Sunday night. 

Oblivious Kenyans did not get the significance of the area that is named after a dreaded tycoon who once lived in the area - Fai Omar Amario. 

Born Peter Gilbert Njoroge Ng'ang'a in 1954, Amario was the only child a poor family in Banana but managed to build a multi-million empire and a legacy that lives on - nearly a decade after his death in 2010. 

Amario Factory Naivasha

There are many stories around the flamboyant millionaire who in the 2000s had placed newspaper advertisement on all local dailies, looking for a wife. 

He is one of the indigenous alcohol distillers and also a wine maker who sponsored himself to the Israel Wine Institute to hone his skills. 

Amario returned to build a factory where he employed over 200 people in distilling popular brands such as Amario’s Sherry, Pooler, Medusa, Uhuru 2000, Kata Pingu, Mahewa, and Cantata, which were distributed via his depots in Meru, Murang’a, Thika, and Naivasha. 

The wine maker's troubles with the law started in 1996 when he was accused of murdering two of his employees, Gitau Karago, who was the deputy manager at a depot in Murang'a. 

Karago had called his boss in late 1995 to inform him that Sh212,000 was missing. Amario sacked Karago together with Makimei Njoroge, the depot’s manager. 

A week, after his firing, Karago was found dead in Naivasha with a six inch nail hammered to his head. Njoroge, who was unconscious, survived to identify Amario as one of the attackers. 

The tycoon was arrested but the state eventually dropped charges against him. 

In 2004, officers from the elite flying squad raided Amario's Naivasha home over suspicion of murdering his wife Sarah Wanjiru who was suspected to have been buried in the high-secured compound. 

After hours digging the compound with earth movers, police were surprised to discover various car parts buried in the compound. 

Also discovered were ten unlicensed shotguns in a bedroom, seven brand new but dismantled Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi four-wheel drive vehicles, and about 20 computers.

Kamiti Maximum Prison

The incident eventually landed Amario a nine-year sentence at Kamiti Maximum Prison, even as the businessman had threatened the magistrate and the officers who had handled his case. 

The magistrate and the police officers involved in the raid had to be provided with extra security. 

Life at prison humbled the controversial tycoon as he championed for reforms to make prison a better place for inmates. 

I had dreamt of acquiring a helicopter. But Kamiti has taught me not to think like a money minded Kenyan. Now I have a different crusade: to change this country and make it more civilised," he told the press from Kamiti. 

Amario succumbed to a liver illness in 2010 and was buried in a gold-casket during a dramatic ceremony that he had meticulously planned prior to his death. 

His daughter was recently in the news after she was abandoned by Former President Daniel arap Moi's nephew at a Kitale hotel.

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