Why the Infamous Yaya Towers Building was Abandoned for Good!
A prime piece of real estate known as Yaya Towers in Nairobi’s Hurlingham Estate has been vacant for over 30 years. The ill-fated Yaya Towers building has been a topic of discussion among Kenyans for more than three decades now.
The late Nicholas Biwott, a key cabinet minister in former President Moi’s era, possessed the property as part of his vast estate.
Although many knew him as the Total Man, he also went by another moniker, Bull of Auckland, which was only known in certain circles. After a humiliating diplomatic snafu in New Zealand in the 1990s, GG Kariuki teased him with the name in Parliament.
This is how it went down: Total Man was a member of Moi’s delegation to Auckland, New Zealand, for a Commonwealth Heads of State Conference. A female housekeeper, thinking the hotel room was empty, ran into Biwott in his room while he was “comando” one morning.
The lady bolted out a few moments later, screaming that Total Man had tried to rape her. The police were called, and he was arrested, but the matter was quietly settled to avoid a diplomatic row; but not before it became a matter of puns and taunts among his peers about how he almost ‘mounted’ a hapless innkeeper.
Construction of the Yaya Towers
Total Man was a cunning and ruthless operator. He constructed Yaya Center as well as the eerie building next to it.
Trade Bank was a bank that went into bankruptcy, almost certainly on purpose. This bank was founded by two brothers; Alnoor and Iqbal Kassam.
Trade Bank was sued for allegedly fraudulently switching Yaya Center to itself. According to the story, the bank borrowed money from the Deposit Protection Fund to construct its own building, Trade Bank Building but instead billed the assets of Yaya Towers Ltd to guarantee the loan. This is because they advanced Biwott 900M in the early 1990s, which he never reimbursed.
The Kassams established Trade Bank, whose 75 percent was controlled by Biwott and his Israeli ally Gad Zeevi. These two also formed HZ Group, which owns Yaya Center.
They had already begun construction on the Yaya Centre Towers, but they were able to obtain loans for themselves through their bank in shady deals.
Kassam later began demanding repayment for the loan. These demands did not sit well with Total Man, who dispatched the state’s well-oiled machinery on Kassam. He fled to Canada, afraid for his life, and has not returned to Kenya since.
Things Fall Apart
Soon after, the two business associates fell out. Gad Zeevi accused Biwott of ignoring him in the businesses they co-owned. Vaizman Aharoni was a second partner that Zeevi had brought into the partnership. Zeevi brought in his best friend, David Kimche, who was in Mossad just like Aharoni, because Biwott could not be trusted. They came in as colleagues and friends.
Biwott didn’t trust the infiltrators either, so he increased his personal security.
…Biwott had the president’s ear, which gave him almost total power. When former US Ambassador to Kenya Smith Hempstone backed the call for multipartyism and condemned Moi’s government in the aftermath of Ouko’s death, Biwott expelled him. He relentlessly pursued him in the United States with litigation from all angles, including using his ex-girlfriends to torment his soul, until he resigned as a diplomat and filed for bankruptcy. As a hobby, the ambassador returned to his former journalism career and wrote memoirs. He died of diabetes in 2006, after Biwott successfully prosecuted him for defamation five years earlier…
The Mossad were not village boys; Biwott knew so, and he always looked over his shoulder. He rode in unmarked vehicles. There were no Mercedes, Pajeros, or Landcruisers. He was once seen in a Mercedes showroom on University Way, but he drove away in a Peugeot 605.
Biwott would take 5 cars to get to his destination, and you’d never know which one he’d be in because he’d start with one and end up in a completely different one. He’d also hitch rides from complete strangers and reward them with a wand of notes.
He never ate food served at events, and if he had to, he ate from common people’s servings. He would swap high-table food for common food.
What happened to the Yaya Centre Towers?
While Yaya was still under construction in 1995, the Israeli partners became nervous. The elusive special branch was following them around. They ordered the Israeli contractor on location to abandon the project while they cut their losses.
However, they were not going to make everything easy for Total Man. Aharoni directed the contractor to spew concrete in all sewerage systems, elevator shafts, stairwells, functional waterways, and communication conduits.
That is how the Yaya complex’s West Wing became inoperable and dysfunctional. Many structural engineers are baffled about how to clean up the mess, with the majority arguing that the only way is to dismantle the building all the way down to the base and start over again.
With this final blow to their irritant partner, the Israelis left for Israel and have never returned, at least not as of the time of writing this publication.