The matriarch of Madhvani family Meenaben is dead.
Various sources in Kakira, including a senior secretary to the Madhvani, confirmed to Daily Monitor that the widow of the founding father’s first born Jayant Madhvani had passed away in the early hours of Wednesday.
“We regret to inform you that sad demise of Mrs Meenaben Jayantbhai Madhvani today morning at Kakira. She always loves Jinja community and Sdm temple. Its very big loss for the community and Madhvani family. May her soul be rest in eternal peace,” announced Dhiren Mehta of Sanatan Dharam Mandir (SDM) Hindu temple in Jinja, in a message.
A source in Kakira, the heart of the Madhvani business empire, said Meenaben died as she was being rushed to hospital in the wee hours of Wednesday.
She was 92 at the time of death.
Meenaben was a Chauhan from Tanzania who married into the Madhvani family in 1950.
She is survived by Nitin, the immediate past ambassador to the Netherlands Nimisha, and Amit, and grand children.
Her husband Jayant died of heart attack in India in 1971, just months before President Idi Amin launched an economic war that saw to the Asian Expulsion of 1972.
Meenaben famously defied Amin during the expulsion, vowing to not leave the magnificent bungalow and her husband’s legacy regardless of the consequences. It would take pleadings from her family before she relented and crossed the border to Kenya.
However, she was the first family member to return to Uganda soon after the fall of Amin, quickly installing her son Nitin as the heir to the Group empire in Uganda.
However, the other half of the family led by Manubhai, Mayur and Kamlesh – all born to Muljibhai Prabhudas Madhvani’s second marriage to Parvatiben Kotecha, fought back until the family business was equally divided among the five sons.
The Madhvani Group is divided equally among the five sons – Jayant, Manu, Pratap, Surendra and Mayur. The sixth son and last born, Mukesh, who died a toddler in 1960, is not included in the ownership, just as the seven sisters were excluded – for cultural reasons.
Jayant was born of Muljibhai’s first marriage to Gangaba Unadkut.
While the larger family reached an understanding on sharing the business interests among the sons, it was an entirely different story behind the heavily canopied walls of the expansive Jayant Muljibhai Madhvani (JMM) bungalow on a hill in Kakira.
After Meenaben fought for and later reached an agreement to keep custody of the shares of Jayant for her children, she could not have foreseen that the same shares would divide her own family.
Inside the JMM, a feud that simmered for years reached a boiling point last year with the wall of secrecy around their private businesses being breached by the very insiders when Nitin and Nimisha’s fight for Jayant’s inheritance was widely covered in the media.
Mr Nitin accused his sister – Ambassador Nimisha – of holding out as a director in the Madhvani Group and abusing her clout to unfairly gain control of the family’s assets.
“She [Ambassador Nimisha] has taken advantage of her brother Amit’s mental limitations and her [mother] Meena’s major cognitive impairments to control their affairs and property,” the letter by Mr Nitin read in part.
It took the intervention of President Museveni for the family to calm down.
Mr Diren Mehta said a programme for the deceased’s cremation would announced later.