Every honest Nairobi man will concur with me on the fact that, one of the biggest ironies of his life is; he loves well polished shoes yet he hates doing the actual polishing.
Kupaka viatu rangi husumbua sana. No wonder, almost all the shoe-shining joints you find all over are meant for shining men’s shoes.
And just like any other Nairobi man, I loathe the job of shining my own shoes yet I love clean and well done shoes. I am thus a permanent customer of the shoe shiners. In fact, I rather forego lunch and spare the few coins to have my shoes worked on.
But again, one of my most peculiar traits is that, I value loyalty. I love identifying one brand, service provider etc and sticking with them. No wonder, I have become a slave of Safaricom despite their daylight robbery of my data bundles.
Therefore, even my shoe shining is not done by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the streets.
Over time, I have identified one shoe shiner who does it for me.
But even more interesting, that fellow has turned out to be more than a shoe shiner to me. That guy has become part of my daily life.
The guy is a tall, quite well built man from Central Kenya (presumably because he speak very fluent Kikuyu) most likely in his late 50s or early 60s. I guess he is a few years ahead of my dad in age.
So, what exactly is so special about this man; one may ask?
Well… It is difficult to explain but I will try…
You see, this guy’s modus operandi literally epitomizes passion..
To begin with, the guy is a damn good early riser despite his age. You walk to his place at 6am and you will find him there. And he is there the whole day.
But you really never get to appreciate him until you walk to his place to get your shoes done. The guy welcomes you with a wide smile and unmatched courtesy. By the time he starts polishing your shoes, you already feel confident that he will do a good job.
The man then settles down to work on your shoes like they are last he is doing in life. He takes his time. Enough time. He is never in a hurry until he is convinced he has delivered, regardless of how many customers are waiting for him. Until your shoes sparkle, he won’t let you go. And his charges are no different from other shoe shiners.
And while at his job, the guy will voluntarily treat you to well measured snippets of the latest-in-town talk. He particularly has a good grasp of the politics of the day. The man accurately predicted to me about the current handshake madness, long before the 2017 presidential elections happened!
Even more interesting, throughout the day, you will always find him in shining black military boots. Fellow seems to spend enough time doing his own shoes before doing those of others.
Doesn’t preach water yet drink wine at any point.
Actually, those boots of his sometimes make me think that, maybe he has served in the military at some point in life.
So, one day, not long ago, being the curious journalist I am, I got so curious about this man that I decided to follow up his story. I mean, he is too organized for an ordinary shoe shiner. (Soon, I will apologize to him for stalking).
And believe it or not, that fellow is not just any other shoe shiner. In another life, in a certain city suburb, in the outskirts of the Nairobi, that guy is a serious landlord!
Yes, the man owns serious rental property. Yet, he still wakes up each morning to shine shoes in such a perfect way. I am yet to ask him how that happens.
But in it all, this man epitomizes the power of passion. He loves his job, no matter how humble. He inspires me to love and pursue that which I love doing. He is a perfect example of how man should pursue that which he loves.
I can’t wait for Monday to pay him a courtesy call; of course to have my shoes done and for the latest political gossip in town!