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An Encounter With a Street Barber

I’d love to do my haircut at a hair salon in CBD.

We all nurse that secret ambition. My bank balance has, however, kept me and my head under makeshift shades and on plastic chairs. I only go to CBD to argue with BURS staff about miscalculation on my tax returns.

For a good number of us the Street Barber is the solution to uneven hair and balding heads. God bless the Street Barber. Street barbers are doling out community service. How do you explain this? In the late 80s a haircut would set you back a cool P10.

This was before they discovered the sterilising powers of methylated spirit and before they realised the customers would be more comfortable sitting on a plastic chair than on a tin of paint.

Thirty years later, the price has increased by a paltry P10. Everything that used to cost P10 in the late 80s costs more than P100 now. How do you explain this ineptitude in Math and Economics? Or perhaps the Street Barber industry is insulated from inflation by the Almighty?

In a lot of industries, they will increase prices at the drop of a hat and at the faintest excuse. When cost prices increase they will increase prices. When civil servants’ salaries increase they will increase prices. And when Saddam Hussein decides not to listen to the wishes of USA and acts like he has tofu stuck in his ears, prices will increase.

Not these barbers. In 30 years, there was an annual increase of 33t on average. Read that again.

I had a discussion with a few of the barbers around this issue and most of them accused me of non-consensual education.  They were also baffled why a customer

would complain about low prices.

A visit to the barber affords us mere mortals to learn about a few things about what is happening around the city. Barbers have their ears to the ground and are a walking library of the latest gossip, the latest political gymnastics and the latest celebrity break-ups.

My opportunities to hear all this is limited mainly because only half of my head is covered in hair so the minutes on the plastic chair don’t allow me enough time to hear the juiciest bits.

Our hygiene at the Street Barbers might soon be compromised greatly. Hygiene here involves being sprayed with methylated spirit from a bottle branded Black Like Me or Sta Sof Fro – renowned hair brands that have not yet started manufacturing methylated spirit. However, this is also a very novel customer service bonus because it makes you believe it indeed could be Black Like Me.

Due to the ban on alcohol sales methylated spirits have found their way into the latest concoction of brews.

It apparently is a main ingredient in the millennial version of some traditional brews called Modaefok which has a kick of 13, 429 mules. Modaefok has now become a national brew of sorts and it is quickly on-ramped into the fast lane of national embarrassments and has overtaken floor-crossing MPs.

Modaefok  brewers have spiked the sales of methylated spirit. Next time you see a mass of people queued up in front of a supermarket or pharmacy, just know that they are Modaefok brewers. And if Street Barbers don’t step up, we could be headed for very expensive haircuts.

(For comments, feedback and insults email

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