Cutting Hair for a Living


By Chrispin Inambao RUNDU As a white shaving machine made a whirling sound, vibrating in his hands, a pensive-looking figure was hunched over a customer whose shoulders were draped in a piece of cloth as the barber methodically shaved strands of black hair from a male client. This scene, witnessed by a group of customers as they anxiously waited their turn, took place recently inside a brick and corrugated iron sheet shack at Nkarapamwe at house number 35 located along a dusty road at Rundu near a relatively busy shopping centre. Lanky with an intelligent-looking face, twenty-five-year old Marcellinus Shigweda Shitembi has teamed up with his elder brother Justice and assisted by another hand they are able to make a decent living from proceeds generated from the family-run business. Their mother Maria Mo-nica Narumbu, a teacher at Sauyemwa Combined School, was worried about the unemployed status of her two sons and decided to buy them several Warl shaving machines, scissors, bathing towels, stools and wooden benches. She bought these tools so that her sons could start cutting other people’s hair and beards as demand for this particular service is high, according to the younger barber. The hair and beard cutting business was started at a different locality in 2000 but in 2003 the two brothers relocated their business to their parents’ home mainly as a cost-cutting measure and mainly to take advantage of the convenience resultant from running a back-yard business. Shitembi, who charges N$10 for different hair cuts and N$5 for removing beards and for trimming, says on average he cuts up to fourteen clients in a day making around N$120 or more, while month-ends when people have more money are his busiest. The majority of his clients are from Tutungeni. He was born at Kanango Village in Ndiyona Constituency in the eastern part of Kavango. Fluent in Rukwangali and articulate in both Afrikaans and English, Shitembi in his spare time likes to watch TV, read magazines, listen to radio, watch and talk soccer and he goes to the Kavango River to splash out.

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