Once the word “tycoon” is heard, what comes to mind is someone who lives a lavish lifestyle and owns multi-million-dollar properties. However, this wasn’t the case for Said Abdallah Azubedi, a Nakuru real estate tycoon who lived like a pauper despite owning almost half of Nakuru County.
His life mirrored that of a common “mwananchi” who lived in the slum, which is always characterized by a poor background. He had no bodyguards to escort him, no flashy fuel guzzlers; instead, he owned a 1971 Peugeot 504, despite owning half of the property in Nakuru CBD. His presence in Nakuru extended beyond his real estate empire.
When Azubedi wasn’t attending court sessions or tribunals, he could be found at his Tabaruk Cafe near the Shabab matatu stage, serving customers as both a cashier and supervisor. The cafe, however, wasn’t just a business venture; it became a unique space where hundreds of his tenants paid rent directly to him.
The Bondeni slum, where Azubedi spent his entire life, held a special place in his heart. A quarter of the houses in this sprawling settlement belonged to him. Despite rumors of extensive property holdings, Azubedi’s Bondeni home remained humble, initially serving as a business center for a soft drink and cigarette distribution enterprise.
Azubedi’s appearance was as distinctive as his lifestyle: unkempt hair, simple shirts, and flip-flops were his sartorial choices, regardless of the weather.
Ties, jackets, and suits seemed foreign to him, and he rarely wore the traditional Muslim kanzu. His media-shy nature, coupled with a reluctance to grant interviews, added an air of mystery to his persona.
The businessman’s influence extended to Nakuru’s central business district, where he owned several commercial buildings, and the upscale Milimani Estate, where a dozen maisonettes bore his name. Rental houses in Freehold, Langa Langa, and Gikomba Complex added to his extensive portfolio.
Azubedi’s journey to prosperity began with a wholesale business, evolving into a thriving soft drink and cigarette distribution enterprise.
When circumstances led to the discontinuation of these ventures, he seamlessly transitioned to managing a cafe in Nakuru’s central business district before ultimately delving into real estate.
Said Abdallah Azubedi died in 2019 at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi at the age of 79. Those who knew Azubedi well, like former Bondeni Councillor Gibe Kassim, describe him as a generous man.
“Although he was not so generous to himself, he is a known giver and played a major role in helping the Muslim community by contributing generously during Islamic events. He was considered one of the biggest donors during Iftars and Islamic holidays,” recalled Mr Kassim.