Artisan who abandoned his career to pursue a dream

Bizarre as it may sound a Thika Technical Institute Alumni quit his plumbing and electrical wiring job over a decade ago to pursue his dream of building tombstones and fulfil his vision of working with the dead.

Paul Ngugi 45, always had a desire of working in the death industry at some point in his life and despite acquiring a Diploma in electrical wiring and plumbing he never found satisfaction in practising either of the two.

He revealed that he found his true working profession in making tombstones 18 years ago.

With a passion in working for the dead, he finds this job more and more exciting each day.

He makes headstones, tombstones, tiles and graveyards in Thika town of Kiambu County.

According to the soft spoken father of 4, there was a notion that always compelled him to work with the dead people industry either at the Mortuary or to give last respect services and therefore when he found a close friend of his designing a tombstone, 18 years ago he instantly knew what he needed to do.

Ngugi uses granite, dust, white cement and ordinary cement to make his products.

He depends on his talent to make the different designs that he comes up with.

He states that this job not only requires informal education but also a lot of practice.

Having learnt through apprenticeship, he carried on the skill after his tutor, a close friend passed away.

Tombstones are what feed his family and educate his children.

I make a lot of money from making these tombstone, I charge Sh. 2000 to Sh. 5000 depending on the quality of the stone and charge Sh. 20 per for any letter engraved on the tombstone.

For the tombstone, I charge Shs .70,000 and above depending on the type of tombstone one wants, yet it’s not a lot of work it only takes 3 4 days to make one, he narrated.

Ngugi said he has a variety of clients. He says he never lacks clients as the good job he does advertises his services inside and outside Thika, but his main work place is in Thika.

He says like any other business man, he has faced various challenges.

The greatest challenge he has encountered in his career is when he makes the tombstones and all his other products but on delivery, the client refuses to pay.

Following this, he decided that before delivering the product, one should have settled the full payment.

He has also had a problem with the county government since he makes his products in open air.

He says that some time back he had a shop at Jomoko but the county destroyed his stones and sent him out of the place claiming that he was not supposed to be making his products at that place.

Another challenge Ngugi has encountered is clients not taking the stones after he makes them.

The by products cost a lot of money and so if a client does not take it after he has already made it, it means that he has wasted so much money in it.

He concluded by advising the youth not to be choosy when looking for jobs and not to give up when they do not get the jobs they want.

He said 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.

Source: Kenya News Agency