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Doubt you know your city? See Edna for help

How well do you know your city? If you doubt your answer, then it is time you looked for Ms Edna Tuwei.

For the last two years, Edna has been taking tourists around Nairobi, explaining the origins of buildings, streets and monuments.

Hers is a career that developed from her passion of wanting to know about the city that is her home.

“I remember my first trip to the city was when I was in high school. We were passing through Nairobi heading to Mombasa when our teacher showed us Galton-Fenzi monument next to the General Post Office,” said Edna.

The settler from which the monument derives its name measured the distance from Mombasa to that point in the colonial days and that is what we rely on to date. “The monument measures distances in Kenya and its story fascinated me. My interest came from there.”

What started off five years ago as an offer by her mentors to pay her rent for seven months if she agreed to stay in Nairobi as a city guide, turned out to be the first building block of a new career.

Now 26, Edna is relishing her job, which she began full-time after completing an internship at Kenya National Museums.

With brief training from Kenya museum societies, a certificate in tour guiding and travel operations and a client base from her internship, she was ready to hit the road to success.

My clients

“Most of my clients have always come from Oversees Adventures Company in Tanzania and others from the contacts I managed to gather when I was working at the museum, including clients from the Department of Defence,” she said.

Having stayed in town for seven years and read all the books she could find about Nairobi County, Edna said she finds it easy — and fun — to explain the features found in the city.

Her clients pay her whatever they feel comfortable with since she never quotes a figure. However, she says she has never regretted her job as she is able to pay her bills. When not taking tourists around the city, Edna gives talks in schools both in and out of town, about the history and features of the city.

“I always get calls from principals of schools who wish to have me give talks in their schools. This helps students to improve on subjects such as social studies because they get to learn things that might not be in their textbooks,” she explained.

That would include the history of various buildings and monuments and how streets got their names,” she said.

For Edna, her knowledge is not only based on reading but comes from a passion developed out of her natural curiosity about her surroundings.

The language barrier is one major challenges affecting her job. While she speaks German and English fluently, she sometimes gets clients who speak other languagesand none of those she speaks.

“In this job you’ll get tourists from all over the world and if they don’t understand English, explaining about these features gets difficult,” she said.

During the cold seasons, especially in the rains, the weather prevents the city guide from doing her job efficiently because it prevents tourists from walking comfortably around the town.

Instead they travel in cars or minivans and sometimes end up not visiting some streets and missing some special features, such as monuments which are accessible only on foot.