James Kamau - man with six fingers
James Kamau, 28, says his birth-date could have a unique correlation with the number of his fingers. [ Photo / citizen.digital ]

Five fingers are good, but for James Kamau, six fingers are even better.  Kamau, who was born with an extra finger on each hand, should be cowing and struggling to hide the unusual phenomenon. Yet this abnormality has become a blessing that’s turned him into a sort of celebrity in Nairobi’s Githurai area.

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Kamau works as a masseur and this unique feature surprisingly keeps customers coming back because, he believes, of the wonders of the extra fingers. Kamau is the proprietor of Danty Nail Parlour in Githurai-Kimbo, offering various beauty services and massage therapy.

He says customers keep coming back just because of the extra fingers. “I remember at some point, a female customer asked why my services had a uniqueness to it,” Kamau said, speaking to citizen.digital. “I simply laughed and kept to myself.”

Kamau, 28, says his birth-date could have a unique correlation with the number of his fingers. “I was born on 11/11 (11th of November). “Maybe that is why I have 11 fingers and toes on either side.”

Kamau’s condition has baffled friends and relatives as well as his customers. The condition is referred to as polydactyly in medical terms. It is the second most common hand anomaly and is present from birth (congenital). Polydactyly usually affects only one hand or foot rather than both.

Medical experts say polydactyly comes in three main ways: ulnar or postaxial polydactyly which is commonly referred to as small finger duplication; radial, preaxial polydactyly or thumb duplication; and central polydactyly.

“His case is central polydactyly. It is a rare type of polydactyly where the extra finger is attached to the middle, ring or the index finger,” says Roy Kulundu, a resident n***e at Royal Cornwall Hospitals in the United Kingdom. “This could actually work for his good in his line of work because medically, people with this form of polydactyly have more dexterity of movement.”

His situation comes with interesting times. “I remember there was this customer who asked about the cost of one of the services offered. I folded my thumb to signal it is 500 shillings because if I had my palm raised, that would be 600 shillings. They later realized I had 6 fingers and even went ahead to tip me,” he tells us.

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He recalls another awkward moments in high school. “There was a mathematics question that asked about the number of fingers a person has. I picked six as the answer since I counted my fingers,” says Kamau, the Information Technology graduate who was introduced to the beauty industry by a friend.  “My teacher could not understand why I failed such a simple question. So I was asked to count my fingers. He stood there bewildered.”

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