May 28, 2022
File photo of Kakamega Businessman Cleophas Shimanyula in a past press conference
  • The story of Kakamega cannot be told without mentioning one of the most reclusive tycoons with investments in almost all parts of Western Kenya.

    Businessman Cleophas Shimanyula, famously known as Toto, is among a small group of individuals from Kakamega County who wield immense power and influence owing to their vast wealth and multisectoral investments.

    For over a decade, Shimanyula has been a towering figure in Kakamega where he has amassed wealth and invested in transport, real estate, football, construction and farming sectors.

    His story is that of grass to grace. Shimanyula started off as a tout in public service vehicles plying the Kakamega – Kisumu route. Gaining interest in the motor world, Shimanyula and his three brothers joined their father at his garage and started doing simple motor repair and maintenance jobs.

    The businessman, who cuts the image of a simple but enigmatic individual, is credited with turning around the taxi business in Kakamega town and introducing posh cars for hire services. The vehicles are always hired out to high ranking clients including politicians from the region and those visiting the area.

    File photo of Kakamega Businessman Cleophas Shimanyula in a past press conference

    From Touting to owning over 50 matatus

    Although his educational background remains mysterious with reports indicating that he only finished primary school, his journey began in the 90s in Kakamega. After serving in his father’s garage for years, he bought himself a saloon car.

    The saloon car was among the very first taxis in Kakamega town and he used it to run the business for over 10 years. Shimanyula made his debut in the matatu industry after buying one vehicle through a loan he acquired from a local commercial bank.

    He named his first matatu, Homeboyz, and this later became his signature name in the matatu industry, mostly those plying the Kakamega – Kisumu route.

    Nearly a decade later, his Homeboyz brand had over 50 vehicles operating on different routes in the country. However, his legacy almost crumbled on October 10, 2018, when one of his buses was involved in a road carnage that claimed the lives of 58 people.

    “What has happened is quite unfortunate. We have worked hard for some time now to ensure our vehicles operate safely. This has come as a big shock to me,” he stated at the time.

    Kakamega Homeboyz Football Club

    In 2010, Shimanyula founded the Kakamega Homeboyz Football Club. The club which sits atop the Federation of Kenya Football (FKF) Kenya Premier League table, was launched to offer a platform for youth, especially from the region, to grow their talent.

    Although it has never won the league, it finished in the second position in the 2019/2020 season. It gained its promotion to the Kenya Premier League in 2013.

    Political Dominance

    Shimanyula capitalised on his wealth to establish himself politically. For years, most political leaders have been using his influence to mobilise supporters.

    Former Cabinet Minister Cyrus Jirongo is one political leader who has used Shimanyula’s influence in his campaigns. Other than hiring his cars, he also used his influence to gather supporters in different rallies in the region.

    Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader, Musalia Mudavadi, is also among the beneficiaries of Shimanyula’s influence. Mudavadi used his high end cars to run his 2013 presidential campaigns.

    Other leaders who have closely associated with Shimanyula include the current Kakamega Governor, Wycliffe Oparanya, and COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, among others.

    In 2017, Shimanyula made headlines after he vowed to sell all his wealth to ensure former Senator Boni Khalwale does not win the Kakamega gubernatorial seat. He supported Oparanya who went on to successfully defend his seat.

    His dominance in the region has continued to grow. Currently, he owns a yard next to Bukhungu Stadium where his lorries and construction equipment are stored.

    Despite his influence and wealth, Shimanyula remains reclusive, living a low profile life in Kakamega.

    File photo of Homeboyz Football Club owned by businessman Cleophas Shimanyula
    File photo of Homeboyz Football Club owned by businessman Cleophas Shimanyula

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