Thursday, October 9, 2008



The Standard
Nairobi, Kenya
October 9, 2008

By Amos Kareithi and Dann Okoth

The pair of brown shoes he might have worn when shot into national limelight lay desolate on the green roof. They appear to be waiting for their wearer to return home. But the owner, James Ndimu Kamangu, passed on Wednesday, ending a sensational chapter that dragged him into controversial and hilarious national attention.

Kamangu kicked off one of the most heated debates, in 2006, when he claimed he was husband to Bishop Margaret Wanjiru.

And controversy seems to have followed him in death as his family is now embroiled in a feud over how he died.

Screams by his anguished mother announced to Kabubu villagers in Gachie location, Kiambu District, the death of a man who put their village in the news.

James Ndimu Kamangu attends mention of his case against Bishop Margaret Wanjiru at the Nairobi Law Courts.

As she wailed, shell-shocked neighbours discussed in low tones Kamangu’s fate.

As Kamangu’s wife Beatrice Mbaire, tearfully recounted her last moments with the deceased, a commotion erupted.

"You must tell us what you did to him. He was fine until on Wednesday. Now Jimmy is no more. We demand to know what you have done," charged an enraged brother David Gachie.


As David was restrained by villagers from attacking Mbaire, Kamangu’s son, Steve Ndimu, 15, grabbed a metal bar to defend his mother.

Such was the rowdy manner in which Kamangu’s death was received when word went round he was no more.

Initially, there was talk of foul play but some relatives told The Standard Kamangu had complained of a stomach upset and was vomiting before he was taken to a nearby hospital.

He was then transferred to Kiambu District Hospital and finally to Kenyatta National Hospital.

Kamangu with his lawyers

Photos: Boniface Okendo/Standard

"I left him at KNH at midnight, yesterday. When we took him there, I was instructed to buy some drugs from Nairobi Hospital, which were administered to him by the doctor," Kamangu’s sister Jane Nyanjega said.

Mbaire says her husband was taken ill on Tuesday morning after he started vomiting and complained of a stomach upset.

"I assisted him to walk to the clinic but we had to go to Kiambu," she said.

When confronted by her in-laws about the death, Mbaire said she had done nothing wrong, saying she had personally taken him to hospital.

Disputed claims

Gachie location chief Peter Ndung’u Kibandi disputed allegations Kamangu wanted a separation from Mbaire.

He said Kamangu differed with her for brewing traditional liquor.

"I intervened and Kamangu stopped her brewing the liquor. I remember such a case was brought to me," he said, on Wednesday.

At Kamangu’s house, relatives and neighbours started streaming in to console the family.

Bishop’s picture

Inside his house, quite unexpectedly, there was a wall calendar with a picture of Bishop Wanjiru celebrating her election as Starehe MP.

There is also his picture as a child with his late father Stephen Ndimu and his mother Jedidah Wairimu.

Celeb status

Kamangu died before a case he filed against Bishop Wanjiru contesting her planned marriage to her South African suitor was concluded.

He gained national stardom after filing the case and was frequently invited to entertainment joints.

From a frail-looking and haggard man at the onset of the dramatic case, Kamangu transformed into a suave figure, turning out in different pressed suits at each court mention.

Some local FM radio stations marketed Kamangu as a brand and soon he became one of the so-called ‘celebs.’

He was later associated with the fledgling Maendeleo ya Wanaume, an organisation fronting for men’s rights.

During his recent homecoming in Mathira, local MP Ephraim Maina recognised Kamangu’s presence in an occasion attended by several politicians.

Media attention

On Wednesday, villagers marvelled at the huge media attention at Kamangu’s homestead. Distraught relatives and neighbours were interviewed until they could take no more questions.

But Kamangu, according to his friends, was an ordinary man who lived an extra-ordinary life, despite coming from a humble background.

He lives behind a widow Mbaire, two sons and a daughter.