LIFE BY LOUIS: Memories of hair care in our days

Monday November 11 2019

The shaving machine was a manual gadget that he operated by pressing a lever with his thumb. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH


Over the weekend, I bumped into a store that sell ex-UK items. I decided to enter and probably get a feel of how the United Kingdom feels like since I have never been to Europe.

While inside there, I chanced on a fantastic hair shaving kit. It looked like it had been used only once in a not so busy barber shop in some upmarket suburb in the country of origin.

The price was also pocket friendly. With the current state of the economy, my pocket has headroom for a few more friendly offers.

I reasoned that the shaving kit was a good idea for my humble abode in 8th Floor. The male to female ratio here is 3:1 and the house always resembles a male hostel. A shaving kit will be in fulltime employment.

I was already feeling elated that I would no longer have to incur the barber shop hustles for me and the boys.



When I went to the counter to pay, I remembered Carol from my barber shop. She claims to hold a higher diploma in hair hospitality and with majors in male shoulders and temples relaxation.

I have been her loyal client since my estate barber shop started offering mild male relaxation and muscles entertainment services.

Her services have become so popular that once when she was transferred from Roysambu to Syokimau, I also identified a car wash and pork butchery in the same area near her new work station.

I wanted to get an excuse to visit her new work station and continue enjoying her after shave services.

I bumped into a few friends there who had beaten hours of traffic to continue enjoying the neck and shoulder relaxation services from Carol.

However, the value chain was not working for us and we protested until she was returned to Roysambu with a higher salary and a supervisor role. 

I therefore reasoned that if I buy a home shaving kit, Carol will be jobless and I will lose her trust built over many years.

Although it is not official yet, male head shaving and after shave service is part of the Big 4 agenda. After getting a thorough neck and shoulder relaxation, the brain becomes activated and you suddenly feel this inspiration to convert your backyard into an industrial park or an inland port which are key pillars of Vision 2030.

Before shaving kits and barber shops that offer muscle relaxation services landed in this country, our scalps had undergone a full cycle of hardships.


When I was still young and learning to count using maize seeds at Karugo Group of Schools, getting a decent shave was as elusive as affordable medical services.

Our hair would grow long and we would end up resembling seasoned freedom fighters who had just emerged from the bushes after a ceasefire.

During the weekly hygiene inspection at the parade ground, one dreaded teacher armed with a long stick would walk along the row of boys agitating our hairs with the long stick.

If dust, tree seeds and lice fell off, you were promptly sent home to get your hair shaved.

There were two options for me. The one I dreaded most was when Wa Hellen reached for a blunt pair of scissors and offered to do the honours herself.

She would lock me in a vice grip between her legs and clip off the hair while admonishing me for looking like a squirrel that had just taken a break from its dusty burrow.

Because she had not attended a hair dressing school, I would get a few accidental cuts on the scalp. I still consider myself lucky to have survived to adulthood with both my ears intact.

Her workmanship was nothing to write home about. The end product left my head looking like a part of Mau forest that had undergone severe deforestation and charcoal burning.


If she was in a good mood, she would give me five shillings and send me to the local barber.

He was an old man with shaking hands and he claimed to have shaved big dignitaries long before the country gained her independence.

He was an ardent consumer of adult beverages, and half the time you had to summon him from a nearby den where he was enjoying the fruits of his labour.

The shaving machine was a manual gadget that he operated by pressing a lever with his thumb.

Despite his misgivings and weaknesses with the tipple, his end product was a masterpiece in good workmanship. Chances of ending up with a severe hair rash were high, but it was a small price to pay compared to the terror of being shaved by Wa Hellen.

These scalps you see on our heads have gone through a full cycle of harassment and terror. If you see me taking a full hour at the barber shop, just know that I am trying to give my scalp the much needed post traumatic therapy after many years of abuse.