When Naivasha MP John Mututho agreed to take us around the Sh130 million house he built in Nairobi, we knew we would be lucky to get a glass of wine at the dinner table. Mututho, after all, has won a presidential award for fighting to control the production and consumption of alcohol. And so, on Jamhuri Day, as many Kenyans worshipped at the altar of alcohol to celebrate Kenya’s 48 years of independence, Mututho opened the door of one of the many rooms in his massive residence and ushered us into a small, quiet corner lit with two candles — his prayer sanctuary. No beer, wine, or rum here. But the sanctuary is not the only distinctive aspect of the one-storey, eight-bedroom, and two-living room house that sits on a 1.25 acre piece of land at the heart of Karen.
There were many details, many architectural knick-knacks and add-ons that emphasised the attention to detail that went into the house, among them a gigantic fish pond that accentuates the lawns of this vast property. Mututho House, as we would like to call it, stands on one of the most expensive, most exclusive corners of Nairobi. If he were to sell the piece of earth he owns in Karen, the asking price would be between Sh20 million and Sh40 million an acre. Should he decide to rent it, he would be assured of more than Sh250,000 a month. The house sits a short distance from the gate under a rich canopy of trees and is lighted by dozens of exterior lights, giving the exotic ambience of life in the African savannah while at the same time affording the Mututhos the tranquil existence of modern suburbia.
Mrs Mary Mututho, assisted by a security man who only identified himself as Mogaka, took us through the landscaping, which is centred around a well-kept lawn, an ornamental and vegetable garden, one-storey staff quarters, three water springs, and the fish pond. You are unlikely to find Mr Mututho at the fishmongers’ because his pond, supplied with 1,000 fingerlings at construction, can supply mature tilapia. The lawn outside the house is so well trimmed that the MP is sure that babies can slide on it and emerge without a scratch. The flowers in the homestead include the calla lily, roses, hibiscus, Maasai moran, and desiderata. Wherever you spot a perimeter light, a nearby rose flower will be struggling to reach it. Mr Mututho loves the good life, and so he imported three exquisite water fountains to add to the glamour of his home because “no one deals in such an artificial water system in Kenya”.
The fountains use rain water harvested from the roof, which is then filtered and channelled to the water springs and into the house. Next to the fish pond is a multi-storey garden where vegetables are planted. The family gets its sukuma wiki, onions, pepper, carrots, and tomatoes from here. Green, in its rawest and most immaculate form, stares back at you wherever you look, and Mrs Mututho explains that green was her theme colour for the compound. “We love the environment and green is associated with the environment,” she says. How much green is there in this compound? A well-watered green compound, green tiles, white-and-green floor tiles, a white-and-green ceiling, green seats, and curtains with hues of green. A sweeping staircase takes you upstairs to the eight bedrooms, all en-suite and fitted with built-in cabinets.
Sparkles of blue and green, with paintings along the walls, give the corridors a romantic feel, while a painting of a Maasai woman at the far end adds an African touch to the view. The master bedroom looks rustic, simple, and cool. A king-size bed and beside it an alarm clock and a small portable Sony CD player. There are waterworks fixtures in the bedroom, a spacious dressing room, and brown wooden closet. The master bedroom also has a kitchenette and a private balcony gives the couple privacy. The family watches movies, news, and parliamentary proceedings from the media room that has a huge plasma screen and several computers. When he feels cold, the legislator can warm himself at the fireplace while sitting on a traditional stool, a gift from a group of Maasai and Kikuyu elders living in the Aberdares when they proclaimed him an elder in 2009.
The masculine-looking visitor’s room is furnished with green sofas. It is a comfortable area for entertaining. It has no TV, books, or newspapers. This is where the politician receives his visitors. The ground floor has the dining hall, kitchen, guest rooms, family room, and visitors’ room. A bit small for such a big house, the dining room has a pale green table, eight imported wooden chairs, and the “magic corner,” a cabinet used to store crockery and cutlery that can house six dinner sets. “Instead of a big wall unit or cabinet, my magic corner stores all the utensils,” Mrs Muthutho says. The spacious kitchen, painted in white, has a six-burner cooker and white custom-made cabinets. Here, steel is restricted to curtain rods, window railings, and a security door on the first floor. The rods were imported from Dubai. Apart from the curtains from Singapore, curtain rods from Dubai, and furniture from Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, most of the other fittings are locally made.
The house, which accommodated 300 extended family members in August, was built by masons from Naivasha. It took about three years to construct.