“He was certainly flamboyant - a ladies’ man with several wives - who liked the races; he was a millionaire and a capitalist himself, but he still taled about things that resonated with the common man,” he says.
“He is remembered as one of a few courageous men who stood up to Kenyatta.”
"I guess he was too confident - he had bodyguards but didn’t use them.
"We begged him to be careful and leave the country but he would say: 'Who would want to hurt me?
In mid-1970s Kenya, dissent was not tolerated.
Mr Kariuki had rallied against corruption which he said was widespread, fought for land distribution that favoured the poor and argued that Kenya had become a nation of “10 millionaires and 10 million beggars”.
Journalist and historian Martin Meredith, who covered JM Kariuki’s murder for the Sunday Times in 1975, has described him as “a playboy”, not a “particularly admirable character” but gifted with “an unerring popular touch”.
His criticism of government policy did not earn him any favours with Kenyatta’s group and made him some powerful enemies.
Speaking from the house she once shared with her husband and their children outside the capital, Nairobi, Terry Kariuki says he had already received threats to his life before he went missing.
“He knew people were after him and once or twice his car was shot at,” she says.
What most people don’t know about the flamboyant politician was his affair with Nairobi’s first female mayor, Her Worship Margaret Wambui Kenyatta. The hidden affair was brought to light by Kariuki’s close friend and former employee, Oliver Litondo of the First Grader fame. Speaking to British historian David Branch, Litondo said that the affair did not sit well with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s men, including Paul Ngei who is remembered for writing love letters to Margaret while in jail. It was no surprise that Margaret’s home was among the places that witnessed riots immediately after Kariuki’s body was discovered.