Miss World is like a huge conference of very slim and tall beauties with wavy hair trying to be friends while they are in competition. The hairstyles have very interesting names like carrot, pineapple, beetroot (am not too sure about this one though), Peruvian, Brazilian and other nationalities.
Not our girl. She has bucked the trend and amped the value of the street barber a few notches up by rocking up with hair that could well have been shaved by a street barber around the infamous Gaborone West Mall.
I am a regular customer at street barber shops and my backside has a very high mileage of sitting on paint cans which is the equivalent of the swivel chair at high-end hair salons. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that one day I might just happen to come across Palesa (our representative) when she goes for her shave too. I believe it will happen.
Of course some people are still not happy with her hairstyle and are busy brewing ‘I told you so’ concoctions if she does not do well. The short hair will be blamed and the street barber will be held culpable and dragged into the mix. However, us the receding hair crew is just happy that she is showcasing to the world how our hair really looks like.
She will also not disappear in the collage of beauties to the point where you cannot even identify which country she is from. This I think is akin to the President’s theme of ‘travelling for us’ (ke a le tsamaela). ‘Travelling for us’ is presidential-speak for travelling around the world and meeting rich friends who own a minimum of three jets. Some of us have decoded it to mean representing your people. And at the Miss World pageant our hope Palesa is ‘travelling for us’ in more ways than one.
Most of the beauties will be wearing outfits that would look silly on a person who was shorter, or heavier, or - above all - was not being paid to wear them. If you saw a person of normal income out on a public sidewalk dressed exactly the same way, you would naturally assume he was a deranged self-peeing street person.
Until recently ululating was reserved for elderly women at a wedding or any cultural event where people were gathered around for a celebration. In fact, city slickers were even proud to say that they couldn’t do it mainly because the thinking was it wasn’t chic enough. But thanks to one of the interviews where our Miss World 2021 contestant ululated like her life depended on it this has now catapulted ululating into something to be proud of. Locals have caught on and don’t be surprised if when next you greet a person they start ululating. Talk of travelling for us! Such is the power of these pageants.
Remember when Mpule won Miss Universe in the late 90s and suddenly the whole country started wearing the dress she was in when she took the coveted crown. Men were under pressure to buy these dresses for their partners. This was before the Chinese found their way into the country and some men were forced to take loans from loan sharks. Everybody was busy making money thanks to Mpule’s dress. From designers to loan sharks to button suppliers.
I prophesy that as soon as she touches down at SSKA the number of street barbers in Botswana will increase three –fold and signs like Baba Shop, Barba Shop, Berba Shop (which are variations of how it is usually spelt) will start dotting the city landscape as everyone catches onto the craze. Forget the hair salons at the Supermall. They are too few and they do not have enough parking spaces to cater for the anticipated influx. In my life, I have never seen a street barber without parking space.
Palesa, whatever the result we are proud of having a representative who has taken the President’s message of reset agenda and thank you very much for travelling for us at Baldhead Street! Good luck and more ululations.
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