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I claw out a living with my long nails

For 12 years, John Waweru’s left hand fingernails have never been cut.

The allure of earning hard cash from showing off the very long nails and breaking the world record made the 33-year-old avoid the cutter. Ms Lee Redmond the current record holder has 12-foot long nails.

“I have grown them since July 2002 and I have made my living from them since,” he said.

Initially, Mr Waweru said he could perform some chores with his left hand but with time, the nails made it impossible.

“Right now, I cannot wash clothes, I cannot bathe with my left hand and I cannot even put or remove or put money in my pocket,” he said.

The 1.3 foot-long nails, he said, have been the centre of attraction every time he walks on the streets of Nairobi and Mombasa. “I have to cover them with a roll of newspaper or a cloth so as to protect them from getting broken. They are delicate,” he said.

“Since I started keeping the nails I have become very peaceful. I do not fight with anyone because I do not want to lose my source of income. I also do not drink or subject myself to any condition that can break my nails” he said.

For that reason, he has been forced to employ someone who does the chores that require the use of both hands as he sits around manicuring his tools of trade.

“I keep filing them but I have not applied any nail hardener because I need them to be flexible so that they do not easily break,” he said.

National flag

“I apply nail polish with the colours of the Kenya flag because most tourists, who want to take a photo with me like my nails with the colours of our national flag” he said.

Mr Waweru has been going to tourist’s attraction sites where tourists take photos with him at a fee. On a bad day, he takes home Sh2,500 but sometimes he earns up to Sh5,000.

“Even on the streets, some people want to take photos with me and I charge them at least Sh200 but it depends on where I meet them,” he said.

Although some criticise him saying he is superstitious, Mr Waweru said he knows his goals in life and does not care what anyone thinks.

“I want to beat Lee Redmond — the Guiness Book of World Records’ man with the longest nails — and I am sure one day, I will achieve it,” he said.

Mr Waweru is not married, but is in a relationship with a woman who supports him, as long as what he does pleases him and pays his bills.