Kengeles fades despite hosting political heavyweights

THE Kengeles chain of restaurants were a popular meeting place in the late 1990’s upto 2013.

It was in this franchise that top politicians and business leaders met during the last part of President Moi’s era and the entire President Kibaki leadership. So popular was the franchise, that it opened branches at Nyayo Stadium, Lavington, Koinange and Kisumu.

And although it not an exclusive members club, the chain had its own unwritten rules that had to be followed to the letter.

Kengele is Kiswahili for bell. Therefore, whenever a “member” walked in, the bill had to be rung to announce the arrival of the guest.

So who patronized which Kengeles?

There were preserved seats for members, mainly at the expansive bar counter where members imbibed as they watched the Premier league

Kengeles Nyayo Stadium

This is where opposition politicians met well into the wee hours of the morning to plot how to end the KANU grip on power and the Presidency.

The former Kengeles is now known as Nexigen entertainment.

The likes of the late Wamalwa Kijana, Raila Odinga, Mukhisa Kituyi, Musikari Kombo, Charles Nyamai and the bull fighter, Boni Khalwale.

It is said that the famous NARC deal between Mwai Kibaki, late Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Kaluki Ngilu was mooted at one of the tables at Kengeles. While the party leaders occupied strategic tables in the restaurant, the Mps  Kituyi, Wafula Wamunyinyi, Kombo, David Were, Nyamai, Moses Wetangula, among others sat at the counter.

Todate, Khalwale has a reserved table at the facility, but he rarely uses it.

Matungulu Mps and a host of other first term Kamba Mps still pass by at odd days of the week, a waiter well versed with operations of the place says.

The Counter seats are still exclusively used by former members ‘or middle class people with swag’, a waiter intimated.

Kengeles Koinange

This was patronized by young, first term Mps.

It was popularized by former Taveta Mp Jackson Mwalulu, a Journalist and political activist.

Later it became the breeding ground for youthful leaders and power brokers from Ukambani and Western Kenya.

It  is said the seed for the political marriage between Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga were planted here during the Presidency.

As Kalonzo and Raila sorted themselves out during the “Nusu mkate” government, professionals from Ukambani and Western were busy bonding with a view to forming the alliance.

This franchise has since been purchased by the Nairobi Safari Club.

Kengeles Lavington

This was for the buccaneers and financiers of the political heavy weights.

Here the likes of Trans-century big boys met routinely with important contacts they would rather not invite to Muthaiga Country Club of the Golf Club itself.

It was also patronized by serious technocrats out for an exotic drink. To-date, it has retained the Kengeles brand. But the bells never toll these days.