A Snapshot from South Africa: A Visit to the Roadside Barber

I was concentrating on trying to avoid the chunks of pavement missing as I navigated my bike through the township of Soweto, but something on the road side caught my eye.
I’d heard about South Africa’s roadside barbers, the store owners unwilling or unable to afford the permit for a stall in a market or city and choosing to set up business along the roadside. This particular barber’s space alongside the fence of the train tracks consisted simply of a shade cloth, stacked plastic stools, a carpet underfoot and his clippers – it was all he needed.

It wasn’t the barber that began to talk to me, it was the customer as he eagerly told me I could take his photo and explaining why he preferred to get his hair cut here rather than in a store or mall – the price was much cheaper.

Barber in Soweto, South Africa

“You know there’s one problem with people who take my picture,” he said while straightening the black plastic cape he wore; the barber stood behind him as his expert fingers guiding the clippers over his head, shaping it into the desired style. “People take pictures but they never send us a copy, I’d like to see a copy sometimes.”

– Seen on Pela Main Road, Soweto.

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  • Reply
    May 7, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Great photo and story! Did you get his contact info to pass it along?

    • Reply
      May 8, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Hey Polly,
      I gave him my business card with the website address and told him when it’d be live (it was a bit hard for him to write his email down while he was getting his hair done 😉 )
      Really hoping he does come and downloads a copy of the photo, or gets in contact so I can email him one!

  • Reply
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