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Veteran knife sharpener seeks apprentice

He hoots and whistles to catch people’s attention as he peddles his modified bicycle in Eastlands.

Lucas Kamau, 55, moves around Eastleigh, Pangani and Kariokor estates and uses pedal power to sharpen knives.

He places the knife on the rotating stone and carefully moves it back and forth. Sparks fly all over.  A slight mistake and he could injure his fingers.

A pedal powered stone wheel on his bicycle whizzes as people come to him with knives.

Kamau said he started sharpening knives at 23, after completing his A-levels. “This job feeds my 10 children, pays rent and takes care of medical expenses. My first born is a student at Egerton University,” he said.

And how has he managed to survive long in this rare field? “You must relate well with people and know many languages if possible,” he added.

The knife man said his job does not require astronomical amounts as starting capital. If you already have a bicycle, the only other thing you would need is a grinding stone which costs Sh1,500.

It lasts six months and by that time, he would have made approximately Sh50,000.

He charges Sh20 for a knife or a pair of scissors, Sh50 for a panga and Sh70 for an axe. He sharpens about 50 knives a day.

Eastleigh is his favourite estate. “The place has many butcheries. I get clients from as early as 5am and then work until 5pm,” he said.

He said his kind of work is gaining popularity and he is ready to train anyone interested free of charge. So far, nobody has turned up.