Most people are repulsed by death. In fact, a majority are terrified by anything related to a loss of human life. Still, people must die. And the dead will not take care of themselves.
So a small cadre of people were created seemingly to specifically handle the non-living. It sounds bizarre but they actually love enjoy dealing with death.
Take Paul Ngugi, for example. An alumni of Thika Technical Institute, he acquired a diploma in Electrical Wiring and Plumbing but never found satisfaction in practising either of the two.
The pull by a desire to work in the “death industry” was overwhelming. So he quit his lumbing and electrical wiring job over a decade ago to pursue his dream of building tombstones and fulfil his passion of working with the dead.
The 45-year-old says he found true satisfaction in this profession and finds it more exciting each day. The soft spoken father of four makes headstones, tombstones, tiles and graveyards in Thika town, Kiambu county.
He uses granite, dust, white cement and ordinary cement to make his products but it is his creativity that enables his designs to stand out from the rest.
“I make good money from my work because I charge between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 for a headstone, depending on the quality of the material used. Then I charge Sh20 for any letter engraved on it,” he says.
But it is the tombstones that mint him real money. “These start at Sh70,000 depending on the type of tombstone the client wants and it takes three to four days to make one,” he said. He says he is never in shortage of customers mainly because of the quality of his products which he says advertise him within and beyond Thika.
The greatest challenge he has encountered, he says, is dishonest customers who refuse to pay after delivery. This, he says, forced him to change his business model and now demands full dues before the tombstone leaves his yard.
And the man who society would like to consider ‘weird’ for finding fulfillment in doing what is considered taboo advises the youth to stop being choosy when looking for jobs.
He says being open minded and using their talents and skills is a productive way of putting food on the table and advises them not to indulge in crimes when they lack jobs. -KNA