How this former teacher built a Multibillion hidden resort in Mbiuni, Machakos and his life lessons

How this former teacher built a Multibillion hidden resort in Mbiuni, Machakos and his life lessons

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... why Mbiuni? Because, sometimes you would put this in places that are already developed; places you won't struggle much. But you put this right at your home. Why here? - Well, sometimes when you think about it...who will ever do it. If I don't do it here in Mbiuni, who will ever think of something like this? We have gone to places and every place you go, it's always in the city.

Then we figured, why can't we just do it? Let's do it and do it while in Mbiuni. Let's make a difference in the minds of people. They are even saying, they should rename this village to Philadelphia. You are a common Citizen who has grown up in this place, - and you are making a difference. - Yeah.

People just need to be brought together and given direction. It's not about money. It's about helping people understand their potential and be able to go into this. I told them, previously, I was a teacher, I have been surviving on teaching salary but here I am. People are beginning to believe that at least they can do something. What are the advantages of creating wealth for your family? Children must start from somewhere like I did.

I had a start. I dint think about land. I knew the land was there because my dad owned the land, my grandfather owned the land. So, we should leave that legacy where, we can leave something for our children; for our grandchildren, they can call theirs. Once you start a business, it is a personal commitment.

It could be something new but you are committed to it, to see the ups and downs and you work through them to make it profitable. So, it is possible. To me, it's not a challenge. To me, put your mind there, time and energy, and your money too. With that, you'll see how best you can make out of what you have. As in, we are in Mbiuni, Machackos county.

One of the things I really loved about his story is knowing that, the construction here was done by Kenyans. And of course for you to get to this place, you really need a strong car, and I hope you can be able to get that from our people at Maridady Motors. But for now, let's get our notebook and pen, and take down a couple of notes, because we are about to be inspired by Mr. Kitonga. I'm looking at you, you are just a normal ordinary person who has mastered the art of creating something very beautiful, but I'm sure you did not just find yourself here with money to an extent of saying, "Let me establish this beautiful place." So, this is the time I pause

and let you take us through your story. Could you take us through your story. My parents were simple peasants, very hardworking, they used to rear sheep and we would get food and school fees out of it. My job was mostly to take animals to this hill for grazing. I would do this after school, whereby I'd have lunch first then take livestock for grazing.

While we were on this hill, me and my other cousins, we used to jump from one stone to another. So, I know every lock and hold of this place. You are walking and you have no shoes. You can imagine, walking on thorns and such.

Both my wife and I got down to work. Our kids were in school. Since we are not in a rush dad, tell us about it. You are provided with a house, everything is well taken care of... Personally I had never thought about Green-card but when we had those issues in Eldoret (post election violence) I begun to think of, where next. We have an aunt who lives in the US Green-card simply is a lottery and is luck based. They have to issue a guarantee that you are honest, like a reference.

I also took some construction jobs. I was employed by somebody where we were doing house installations. So, I first worked in a gas station then construction work and so on. So, there you have not work, no being selective? This hill belonged to my grandfather. So, I called my cousins and requested if they can allow me plant some trees.

Soon after, they came and said, "See now, how do you plant trees to a farm that is not solely yours?" We got into an agreement whereby they sold the 100 acres to me. At the time, we were still in the US. We sought for a good Architect through my son and the wife. After we were done with the plans and then told her this is what we want, we agreed with our children that my wife and I should relocate here and start things off. But then along with that, we had a medical issue that came up. We came here in 2021 and it was very rough. You know, with COVID...

We came here and in the middle of the night, our granddaughter got sick. We went to the nearby hospital, no doctor there. We went to Matuu then Thika, we were receiving treatment around 4 AM thereabout. We were like, if our community has been having this kind of problem, to access health know we better because we could get a car and move around

but now, we figured, why can't we put up a health facility that can help with urgent care to our community, you know. So, in 2021, we embarked on construction. So, by the time we were coming here in 2022 the hospital was almost done. We launched the operations We figured that, now that we are thinking about the resort, the community here and our guests may need healthcare facility close by.

The hospital was up and running by the end of 2022. Before we launched the resort, the hospital was way done. We have installed most of the basic equipments. We have X-RAYS, ultrasound, good lab, pharmacy, we have employed very qualified personnel. So, it is really helping us as it helps the community. Even while we were doing the house in Syokimau, we purposed that, one house belongs to our children. They will be able to settle there.

So, we have two houses, we say, "This will take care of our children and our grandchildren when they come here." At least they have a place they can call home. And we also brainstormed with them on where to build our rural home. They suggested Mbiuni where they were born. Well, being in a rural setting sometimes you think about some of these people here, a good number of them have never been to Nairobi and they don't have ways of getting and managing themselves away from their rural home.

So, we had turned our local market here...people there would say, "It's Friday, guys have been paid from the construction site." It became a talk in town. Someone was telling me there other day, "I've managed to pay for my child's University fee from here." He's still working here. Others were saying they have children in secondary school. - Sort of a gym? - Yeah. The laborers were carrying sand, bricks and everything else on their backs.

Did you 'scratch your head' at any given point? The Bible says, before you start the building, make sure your finances are okay. You don't want to build and then in the middle of it all, you abandon it altogether. We are still moving on. I wish to see at least more guests coming in. That road was not passable when we started. After we did the road and people start passing here, even before we concluded construction, they was taking pictures and posting, "See what is coming up in Mbiuni."

Actually pressure from people made us open up this place way in advance. People used to come over and request if we can allow them board in. They wanted us to take them round and see what we are doing. All those people kept posting and posting. Later on we decided to open up the place, we started off with the restaurant and one cottage, then the rest progressively.

We are yet to put up any advertisement, but people are coming here and selling it out, calling their friends. They take photos of the food, "Look at this kind of food. Look at the landscapes." People kept calling, "Kitonga, you eloped from Kenya without telling us what you are doing." So, we figured, "Why can't we just do it while in Mbiuni? For you to get to that hotel, you struggle going through very rough roads. That's why we chose Mbiuni, and that inspiration, "Let's do it in Mbiuni" Our children said, "We should have it here. Let's make a difference." Kenyans, you've got jokes.

I told them to go ahead, no objection at all. Or you can even call it 'Mbiuni hood' like Hollywood. Because I live in Philadelphia, they said we have brought the city right here.

Somebody gave me a ride the other day at around 7 PM. He was like, "You've never seen Kitonga city at night." It looked fabulous from down there. People using Garrisa road, at times they stop and say, "What is that city on a hill?" And they want to come and see what is happening here.

While passing around, what do they say to you? "Mr. Kitonga, you are the next Governor." And I tell them to stop... Then I say to them, "I'm just the simple person-teacher whom you used to see here." I have no business with politics at all. I just wish to remain an ordinary Citizen, the village person. I tell them, "Come and have some tea here. This is your place."

We are growing some of them, and the rest we buy from within; chicken, cow, sheep, And we are encouraging people to practice livestock farming, we'll buy from them. One of the things people assume is that, for someone to own something like this, he/she must come from a dynasty family. But you are a common Citizen, - Who has grown up in this place, and you are making a difference. - Yeah. That's what I'm telling you. They used to call me 'Nyamasi' I'm the Nyamasi you knew; that small boy. It's not about money. It is about helping people understand their potential

and be able to go into this. I told them, "I was a teacher, with a teacher's salary, but here I am." I did not hold a fundraiser to take my family to the US. It was all from the savings that I had as a teacher. I did not start saving while in the US, it all begun here.

I paid for my family to go to the US from my own savings. I tell them, I did it solely and you can do it. I tell them, "Okay, you have children, you have to take them to school..." People think that all they got to do is educate their children. You can do more than just taking your kids to school.

And I always thought of going to the US by the way. In my life I kept saying that one day I'll go there. In the US, in real estate, do you build houses or do you connect buyers to sellers? Or, what area of real estate are you in, in the US? We buy houses. Sometimes you find houses that have been... old houses, I go buy those kind of houses from the owners, I renovate them and put them in the market. I just put a listing there, the house is neatly done, There's no pollution around here. But in the US, we are in the city, We are very busy there.

When you go there you wake up early, come home late, there's a lot of work. US people don't sleep. If you want to make money, you got to be on the road. - Hey, nothing comes easy? - None at all. You have to be on the road. When we come here, mostly it's on a holiday, because life here is slow. We were supervising the construction work. This is a place where you can come and spend a few days.

You will go back home feeling it was worthy being here because, we have the restaurant and the meals are good, always fresh. We have employed very qualified Chefs We like also going there to sit and chat late in the night. Even in the US they are not many, we only know of one We would not wish to end up with hefty bills, you know? We've just launched and these rooms are full. You can tell they are full.

That means the prices are good. They are full. They are booked. People are asking and booking so, if at the prices were not friendly, we would not be having those kind of bookings. So, even the food and everything else, very friendly.

People come here and say, "The pricing ought to be higher!" Please stop with that guys. What do you mean by 'they ought to be higher?' Guys? Don't listen to what they are saying. Those ones have got 'deep pockets' Please, consider...maybe such people are not having any problems with cash. Just the pricing be influenced by what is in your heart.

- Some tomato sauce too and they are okay - Yeah. And they are happy. Now I know a fellow Kenyan, whom I can trace his journey, who has come back and done this, it can only be an inspiration to me and to so many other people who are watching. As for the road to this place, I want people to experience the terrain. Somebody from Tennessee came, she's married there but originally from here.

We were not even done and they were like, "Once I'm in Nairobi, this will be my place. Immediately I land, I head over to Mbiuni." Those in Nairobi, come here over weekends and holidays and experience some fresh air. Kids wish to be here, swim, zip-line and play in water. Some neighbours are telling me, "I have a hill similar to this one." Yeah, come

we share ideas on how to come up with something similar or even better. In fact I got somebody here and I told him, he has to make sure I get some profit. And he's working towards that; cut cost here-there-- Are you referring to Anthony? He's the one who seems capable of doing so. - That must be Anthony. - Yeah.

His role is making sure that we earn profit of what we are putting in. One of them is on zoom, having meeting we those who are here, to make sure the venture is profitable. And it's working well. We have no challenge like people say, 'business is hard' Not at all. It's dependent on proper planning because every business is unique. We've never been in hotel business before, but we are here and it's working.

Give them directions to this place all the way from Nairobi. From Nairobi, you take Kangundo road. Kangundo road will bring you to Tala.

From Tala, you move as if heading to Kangundo. Midway, there's a school known as Ngonda. While there, you’ll see and earth road on your left.

Drive uphill then do your right turn. From there, just follow the sign boards to this place. Our village is called Chambo. Or you can just Google "Kitonga garden resorts" follow the directions here. I got here and met the likes of Faith, James, Onesmus, we chat stories, I feel I'm home, The moment you step in, the feeling can be likened to that of Hollywood. That's the only way you are able to get here, No shortcuts.

Me and Schola, we are about to go in for zip-lining, so, And I hope whatever it is you are doing in life currently, you can be able to achieve it. And also, if you wish to get to this place comfortably, visit our people at Maridady Motors, the home of great SUVs and get yourself an amazing car.

2024-05-08 14:02

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