Foreman Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy
In the Kikuyu tradition a man is often judged not by what he has achieved himself, but by what his children have achieved.
Kimani’s father would be a proud man.
The son he named PHARIS KIMANI RIMUI back sometime in August of 1928 at a place called Rongai in the Nakuru District, has come a long way.
He was one of 4 brothers and one sister. Old Moses Rimui and his wife Wanjiku worked in the farms of the white settlers in what was then known as ‘the white highlands’. They lacked for nothing, yet they were poor hardworking labor folk. The boy Kimani was lucky to go to school, even when only until class 4. He had barely learned to read and write a little, when it was time to go to work.
His parents, in good standing with the white settlers, secured him a job as an apprentice poultry keeper with a mzungu (white man). Kimani remembers that Bwana Shister singling him out as a bright boy and therefore putting him ‘in charge’ over other youngsters.
Soon after that Kimani’s quest for practical knowledge led him to the small farming town of Nakuru where he found work with May Contractors to learn the work of a mason.
In his twenties the infamous mau-mau uprising came and like most of his age mates, Kimani fell victim and was subsequently rounded up and arrested and jailed for 7 years.
After his release and before independence came to Kenya, Kimani moved to another small farming center, Limuru near Nairobi. He was employed by ‘Bwana Young’ as a handy man and to help his wife maintain the chicken coops. Fate had it that Don Hunt arrived on the scene shortly after Independence and rented a house on a small coffee farm. His Neighbor, Ralph Young and his wife Allison took to advising the ‘green horn’ from America and let him employ Kimani as a fundi (skilled handyman) with knowledge of fixing anything and especially building animal pens etc.
Not much later when the Hunts, Bill Holden and Julian McKeand bought the land in the foothills of Mount Kenya that was to become the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, Kimani was their first eager employee. He helped fence the land, assisted in building the Hunt’s bungalow, stood by Iris in building the Animal Orphanage and built countless other animal pens and crates.
Soon Kimani rose to ‘foreman’ a title he prefers to this day. But the humble man is much more than that. He has been a friend and adviser, an important link between the ranch labor that he overseas and the management. Of late, aged 75, he learned to build the ‘Stay Tite’ fence in preparation for the arrival of the American born bongo.
After 37 years in the employ of the Hunts’ Kimani does not want to talk about retirement.
As long as the Bwana Don works here at the Ranch, I will also work.”
“I love my job and after all these years it is on my finger tips. And I love animals. They have always been part of my job. I like to work here because my bosses are very good people and have taught me a lot about animals at the Game Ranch. I especially like the bongo because of their elegant fur and I look forward to a successful rehabilitation of these animals on this mountain in my country.”
Kimani raised a family of two girls and five boys. All went through school. Some graduated from college and all have work. Recently they bought him a small car so he can get home to Limuru easier, and a cell phone so he can stay in touch.
Like his Father before him Kimani can be a proud man!