By Prudence Minayo
Shanice Nthenya Atieno, popularly known as Santorini queen, is the founder of Romani Tours, one of the largest travel agencies in Santorini which rents out cars and boats to tourists. During an interview with Travel YouTuber, I am Marwa, she said that she was the only Kenyan living and working in the Island at the time.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
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She was born and raised in the Nyanza region of Kenya. As an orphan, life in Kenya was quite difficult and she learnt early that she had to work hard for her own things. She moved abroad in search of better opportunities.
Moving to Greece
When she first arrived in Greece, she managed to get a tax number but the employment number took a long time to be processed. While waiting for the government to process her documents, she visited different Islands across the country.
One day while in Santorini, a friend invited her for dinner and informed her that somebody else would tag along. Little did she know that the other person at dinner that night would be her future husband. Her-would-be husband offered her a job as a sales person at his company, the only requirement was that she needed to know how to drive. She had a driving license in Kenya but had never driven in Greece where they drove on the right hand side unlike Kenya. She nevertheless said she had experience in driving. He asked her to drive them from point A to B and when she managed, the job was hers for the taking.
The only problem was that she was living in Athens and the job was in Santorini, a very expensive place. The man told her he was divorced and she could go live in his house. Keen on not jumping blindly at the job offer, she asked for a contract in order to safeguard her interests and when this was signed, she moved to Santorini.
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Their relationship developed into love and the two got married.
With her husband’s help, she grew Romani Tours to a reputable company that employs about twenty people and hires out their fleet of over 200 cars. She also oversees Romani Villas which offers clients various rooms from studio to one bedroom with their most affordable one going for 50 Euro or less depending on the season.
Business is very hectic especially during summer and spring. She has to work very long hours and get less sleep in peak season.
During the YouTube interview, the mother of one daughter advised African women to change their mindset about marrying white men. She said that marrying a rich man does not mean sitting down and having everything handed to you. One has to work extremely hard.
“Not every woman that has a white man is a billionaire and not every woman with a white man is sitting down and getting everything for free. You have to work for it. Things have changed, you have to work so hard and achieve what you can achieve by yourself.
You have to make an effort to improve what you found. If you found fifty million what did you contribute….” She partly said as she was concluding her interview with I am Marwa.
Shanice Nthenya Atieno has also had her fair share of challenges including feeling lonely as the only black person in the area. She has also experienced prejudice and racism from a few of the tourists. While Santorini itself is not racist, some tourists don’t expect her to be the owner. They ask for a deal and when she gives it to them, some demand to speak to the owner only for her to tell them that she is the owner.