Brian Nanok: The Engineer who fell in Love with Ladies’ Hair!

By Rumona Apiyo.

Brian Nanok is a first born in a family of three. He was born and bred in Kainuk , Turkana county . He was bright student and thus earned himself a scholarship from the Philadelphia Free Pentecostal Church.

When he finished his secondary school education, he was admitted at Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology to study Diploma in Agricultural Engineering. In 2011, he was employed at FMD East Africa at the main office in Eldoret town. His starting salary was Ksh. 32,000 from that a hotel business was born. everything was going well at least by then.

In December 2012, he resigned from FMD having secured a job in Denmark. However, hell broke loose when his visa and work permit had the same name but spelt differently. His visa had Bryan which according to him is a Kiswahili version of Brian that was written in his work permit.  Two weeks is what the Embassy of Denmark gave him to ensure that both documents had a similar names. That meant he had to swear an affidavit with Commissioner of Oaths in regards to his identity. The period was insufficiently short for such an exercise. You perhaps know how long it takes to get things done in Kenya(normally).  This left him with very few  options. He therefore decided to give up on the dreams ad focus in his Hotel Business.

He was able expand the business to a Nyama Choma and Butchery zone. The business went well for few months until the Landlord provided him with the notice to vacate the premises.

The landlord had planned to demolish the building and construct commercial apartments. Brian Nanok searched for an alternative place but his efforts were futile. From the underlying conditions, Brian was forced to close shop and drop the idea of Hotel Business.

Drama ensued when he found out that the landlord had tricked him. Instead of the commercial apartments, he saw a new hotel at the exact place where his used to be. That was the height of betrayal and frustration. Eventually, out of anger, he sold everything he had invested on the hotel at a throw away price and made a decision to start a fresh.

In April the same year, with no source of income a friend told him to make use of the driving license he had acquired. Brian Nanok sought a job as a matatu driver.  He was told to start as a tout for two weeks before he could be promoted to the position of a driver. Having no better option, he agreed. The first day was awesome but the second day, he witnessed a colleague being arrested by kanjo and was fined Ten Thousand Shillings. He was so traumatized and just left the place to Kipchoge Keino Stadium where he went and slept for some time. At this time he was having mediation and reflecting about the sudden changes his life had taken over a few months back.


He decided that he will move out of Eldoret and try his luck in Nakuru town. So he woke up and went to visit his friend Monica who was a hairdresser in Eldoret town. He was stressed and just wanted to spend his afternoon with Monica having a chit chat, sleep. He found her making someone’s hair and he decided to try out on dummy. It was easy according to him, so he asked if he could try twisting the lady’s hair. She did not object and indeed did a good job. That is how he launched his career as a hair dresser.

So Monica asked him to come and help her out since he was good at it. They used to make ladies hair and earn 1000 from it. He was able to learn other things like curly kit, wash and blow-dry. He also got a chance to attend seminars organized by Ashley’s Beauty Saloon and got himself a number of certificates and of course skills. He was better off than some months back, however, whenever he passed where his hotel used to be. He consequently, decided to move out of Eldoret to Nakuru.


While at Nakuru, he applied for jobs as an Engineer. Meanwhile, as he waited for response he decided to look for a job as a saloonist in the area. The earning was meager, but he kept on looking for clients. Eventually he got a job which paid him 15 thousand shillings. That money was so small for an engineer and he decided to focus on making ladies hair.  The client base was growing and he earned more than the amount. Then one day, his friend who lived in Nairobi Uthiru area, called to inform him of a job vacancy for a driver.  he travelled to Nairobi only to find out that the job was already taken up by someone else. He had no place to stay but the friend accommodated him for some time.

He decided to keep himself busy as he awaited another job opportunity in Nairobi. He started making ladies hair, twist to be specific. He did for some time before being employed at Ngara in a saloon. Tragedy struck at home and he had to travel all the way to Turkana. He took longer and the employer sacked him and that’s how he decided to be a mobile saloonist. He is readily available, a call away.

His prowess has gained him access to Arusha where he was invited to do the bridal party hair and was being paid six thousand each. He is able to pay rent and cater for his family and very happy with his job. His clients always call back as well as make referrals. He hopes to open a saloon soon and has no plans of being employed as an engineer.

From an Engineer to a ‘Human Hair Specialist’…a journey of Career Progression in Kenya.


The Writer is a Student at Kenyatta University.

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