She led a private life but her death suddenly thrust her into the public eye, with her name trending on social media for two consecutive days. Much of the discussion has been about how she did not buck convention by dating a handsome young man from her socio-economic class, probably educated in the fine and cultured schools, and with a financially stable background.
Instead, free from the financial yoke that worries so many young women today, she fell hard for an older man, one who from the looks of it may as well be penniless, uneducated, rather, a free-spirited beach boy from a remote village in Lamu Island.
Omary Lali, 50, is now at the centre of investigations into the death of Keroche Breweries heiress Tecra Muigai. Now he is cooling his heels in a police station as police piece together how his lover died while they were together.
Omar ekes out a living carrying luggage for tourists visiting the Lamu Island and the fun season is over, he works as a boat operator, a trade he mastered as a coxswain. He would hire a boat to take tourists to luxurious and secluded retreats in remote places such as Kiwayu, where a one-night stay costs an arm and a leg, Sh48,000.
And that is how he met Tecra, the daughter of billionaire brewers Joseph and Tabitha Karancha, in 2017.
Locals said that the two unusual couple had been living together at a Lamu hotel since March but later moved into an apartment following strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Tecra is said to have fallen down stars while inebriated and was taken to Shella Dispensary where she was referred to King Fahad Hospital on April 30.
But how did this tragic love story begin? Born and bred in the fishing island of Kizingitini in Lamu East, Omar moved to Lamu Archipelago where he lived with relatives.
According to his relatives, Omar has children with three other women, having capitalized on his signature long grey beard and mastery of foreign languages. He speaks fluent English, German, French and Dutch. In a fair world, he would have become a foreign affairs translator, if not a James Bond type, of course with proper training.
He is said to be a smooth talker who endeared himself to tourists who he assisted carry luggage to the luxury hotels on the scenic island that is a retreat to rich as well as the young and restless.
His cousin, Mohamed Ali Mohamed, revealed that Tecra and Omar had been living as a couple for almost two years and had, in fact, visited her parents in Naivasha to get their blessing for their union. The parents flatly rejected the union but the Tecra stuck her ground. She was in love.
“He had gone to Peponi Hotel to drop luggage belonging to some tourists when he found a lady (Tecra) in commotion with the owner over a bill. Lali bailed her out after realizing she was the same tourist he had dropped at the hotel days before,” said Mohamed.
His cousin said Omar also paid for the room she was occupying and that’s how the two struck a friendship that developed into an intimate relationship.
Tecra is said to have loved parties and finer things of life, quite usual for a billionaire’s daughter.
“When her stay in Lamu ended, she returned to Naivasha with a promise to return and after two weeks, she was back. That was in 2017,” Mohamed said.
Since then, Tecra became a regular Lamu visitor and would stay for months on each visit. However, Mohamed revealed that the love birds hit a rocky path after Tecra’s parents rejected their union.
“She had gone with Lali for introduction to her parents. They rejected him but the girl stood her ground,” he said.
In Lamu, Romeo and Juliet spent most of their time at the Diamond Hotel in Shella or Peponi and would normally be seen basking in the sand or resting at the seafront at night.
She even accompanied Omar to a wedding at his remote village in Kizingitini and may have helped one of his relatives secure a job at a parent’s Naivasha plant.
Interestingly, Omar’s cousin revealed that the lovestruck beach boy had been married before, to foreign women, a German with whom he has a daughter, and an Italian and a Dutch whom he befriended on their Lamu visits as tourists.
But Omar’s family is distraught and unhappy with the Karanja’s for not intervening to get him out of police cells.
“We are wondering why Lali is being treated as a criminal. The family was aware of the relationship and there was a standby vehicle that had been hired by the family for the two to use to run errands while Tecra was in Lamu. The family would even send them drinks,” said the cousin.