Snakes hardly conjure up the image of making a living but for Haji Mwachambuli, 29, snake- charming has been his source of livelihood for the last 20 years.
Haji performs his snake-charming acts to tourists and to curious crowds at weddings.
The father of three from Mwamanga village in Diani charges an average of Sh4000 per show.
He learned the trade from ‘Master’ Hamisi Arafat in the latter’s homestead aptly dubbed Jungle Park, where he took Daily Nation. http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/1190-1190-5p56avz/index.html
The homestead is sub-divided into various sections where crocodiles, chameleons, tortoise and snakes are kept.
The snake section has been partitioned into smaller cubicles where some of the world’s most poisonous snakes are housed.
Haji says dealing with snakes requires special skills which he has mastered from the lessons he learnt from his master.
He is not just a snake charmer, but is also a healer of sorts, as neighbours often call upon him to treat snake bites.
“This one is a green Mamba – it is so poisonous that once bitten you need to see a doctor in 90 minutes. This is a Boom Slang, it is not as poisonous as the others. Next is the Puff adder next to it spitting cobra. If the spitting cobra’s poison enters your eyes, you become blind,” said Haji as he showed Daily Nation around the snake park.
"I hail from the community of snake charmers. Though it is not something everyone can do, I feel blessed to have excelled and mastered the art. I am proud of my talent.
“I want to transform the lives of my fellow youths who have been affected by drugs. As it stands now three of the youths who used to take drugs are now recovering. I usually have sessions with them and encourage and try to bring them back to normal,” he added.
But it has not always been smooth sailing for Haji.
A few years ago, while performing a snake-charming act for his audience at Bidi Badu Restaurant in Diani Beach, something strange happened to him unexpectedly: a snake stuck inside his trousers!
Haji is also an upcoming musician and an events MC.