Days were when baggy trousers, long Afro, throwback, “Shalama”, punk, several other hairstyles, high-heeled shoes, among others, trended as the attractive fashion in vogue. They were the dress codes that stood out those who wore them from the crowd.
Such dress signatures were all it takes to qualify the users to join the league of ladies’ men. They were fashion for the elegant, educated, privileged and socially-compliant men in the society. In fact, they did not come cheap then either.
They trended as events and casual dresses. They were the fashion in vogue that some school uniforms were modelled in that format. Woe betides those that could not afford them; they were regarded as fashion orphans, classless, anti-social beings and men that did not belong. They were derogatorily regarded as “Jew men’, timid and or village men.
However, in total submission to the dictates of change, which remains the only constant thing in life, pencilled tight-fitting trousers eclipsed the hitherto baggy fashion. Flat and corporate shoes replaced the high-heeled shoes while trimmed reflective low-cut hairdo relegated to the background the long Afro, throwbacks, “Shalama”, punk and several other types of hairstyles.
Although greater number of men in the Africa continent prefer low-cut hairdo, there are still good number of them very comfortable keeping their long hairs. The reasons for such decision vary from one person to another. For some, it is spiritual, economic, medical, traditional and personality enhancement to such reason as standing out in the crowd.
Whatever their reasons, they seem to be united in areas like keeping their hairs for long period, countless use of combs, canal misinterpretation and sex abuse. While some of them have kept their hairs for 15 years to 40 years, used over 12 to 20 combs, spent fortunes in the range of N15,000 monthly to maintain their hairstyle, others have only reluctantly shaved once to honour their late dads as tradition demands of sons and daughters in some tribes.
They all agreed that though the hairstyle comes with some measure of discomfort, cushioned by some derived comfort, and that their wives have ceased to worry about the hairstyle, however, left for them, it would take something extraordinary to compel them to wear the currently in vogue low-cut hairstyle.
Those with Afro-hairstyle caught across religious and tribal divides. Christians, Muslims, young, old, professionals and the ordinary wear the hairstyle. As they narrate their reasons with Daily Sun, their thrilling, ecstatic experiences will shock you.
I’ve barbed only once in 45 years –Mbah
Fondly called Arunsi by friends and admirers, Cyril Mbah, a journalist of many decades standing, has a signature and identity that stands him out of the crowd, his hairstyle: “I can’t actually remember when I started keeping this hairstyle. But it should be sometime in the 70s, precisely since 1975 or 1976.
“The only time tradition compelled me to shave as the first son of my family was in 2003 when my dad died. I must confess that I did it under serious stress. So, I have only shaved my hair once in the past 40 years. The reason behind my decision was that I wanted a special and unique identity to stand me out of the crowd.
“Again, I don’t just like going to barbing salon even when some of my friends set up salon because of me, thinking I will patronise them. The fear of contacting shaving bombs equally contributed. The other reason for the hairstyle is spiritual. The Bible in Numbers 6: 1-12, tells me that my hair is spiritually holy and must not be shaved. I am also a member of the Essenes with the belief that hairs should not be cut.
“The Biblical Samson was a member. We believe that cutting hairs whittle down a man’s power. For me, if I shave my hair, I will automatically fall sick throughout the period until it grows up again. Interestingly, my parents noticed this when I was very small and hardly shaved my hair.
“My hair is such that can grow up in two weeks. It takes courage to keep my hair like this. It has helped me to avoid certain actions in the public because I know that I will have no hiding place as I can easily been singled out.
“My own style of hairdo is unique because I don’t apply any form of hair cream. Mine is just to comb it with rubber and/or plastic comb. In those days it used to be very hard, all I did was to apply iron and electric comb.”
Asked his wife’s impression about the hairstyle, Arunsi said: “In fact, she loves me because of it. I can tell you that part of the reasons she married me is because of the hairstyle, which has helped me maintain an identity. The good thing is that nobody has misinterpreted me as a gay. They only embarrassingly call me professor or old school and I call them new school in response.”
Any regret keeping his long hair? He responded: “It was the day I went to cover court proceeding in Enugu as a journalist. The judge on entry into the court asked if I am one of the learned colleagues. When I introduced myself as a journalist, he said no wonder because learned colleagues don’t keep their hairs as bushy as mine.
“Another embarrassment was when people misconstrue me as Wole Soyinka’s younger brother. For them, the only difference is that his is grey hair while mine is still dark.
“Keeping this hair has rewarded me in several ways. I recall my encounter with two ministers. One of them, former FCT Minister, gave me N40,000 then to purchase clipper and barb my hair when I was reporting the State House. He thought I don’t shave because I could not buy a clipper. Again, late MKO Abiola also gave me N20,000 for the same purpose, but I never bought clipper or shaved my hair.”
Arunsi also spoke on why he does not keep beard: “I experimented seriously on the personality I wanted right from my youth. There was a time my moustache grew long down to my stomach. But after some time, I discovered that it made my face look long and I had to shave it. That was in 1984 when I was living in Yola as Concord newspaper Correspondent.”
I’ve used over 20 combs since 7 years I barbed last –Asha
Asha is a businessman: “It has been a long time I have kept this hair. If I am not mistaken, it is more than seven years now. It is not because of the financial reason but because I am just comfortable with it. Of course, there are some special creams I had to apply; however, it does not cost me much to buy them.
“I spend roughly N2000 monthly to maintain my hair. Whatever I spend cannot be compared with the comfort and satisfaction I get from this hairstyle. I am not in hurry to trim it. Perhaps, the only discomfort is the frequent buying of combs. As much as I can remember, I have used over 20 combs because most time, the combs use to break.”
I use it to make up for my height –Magwu
In the perception of a staff of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Godwin Magwu, the reason behind keeping his long hair is essentially to make up for his height disadvantage and avoid dreaded baldhead:
“I have been keeping this hairstyle since I was 12 years, about 24 years ago now. I decided to keep it because I don’t have the height. I use the hair to complement my height disadvantage. I also noticed that those that shave regularly usually have baldhead. By the way, why should I shave when I am not a security operative?
“More importantly, hair is a natural gift from God and there is no reason to remove any strand of it. In fact, I won’t barb unless by providence I get a paying security agency job. However, I will even want to get a job to make me grow my hair bigger than this.
“Keeping Afro hair makes one look smart. I gathered that bushy hairstyle prevents direct exposure of the skull to sunray. Essentially, I am glad that my wife remains my biggest admirer. She does not like low-cut, she is in love with Afro hairdo.”
I was abused by gay–Molokwu
Sports journalist and Radio presenter, Chris Molokwu, admitted that besides other challenges of keeping the hairstyle, he has had uncomfortable encounter with gays. He told Daily Sun: “I have kept it for about 18 years now. Some years back, I became a teacher shortly after graduation from university. The students respected me but the problem was that they saw me as a small teacher because I have very small head.
“Even though they respected me, they saw me as an elder brother. During a friendly match involving teachers, the students from other school called me ‘machinery’, accusing my school of using a student to prosecute the match. They said that I was a senior secondary school student.
“Out of anger, I started keeping my hair though barbing occasionally. However, when I came into Abuja 13 years ago, I stopped barbing because I needed to carve a niche for myself. It worked out because people identified me as the Afro hair-carrying journalist.”
How much does it cost him to maintain the hairstyle? Molokwu said: “It is relative because sometimes, I may decide not to apply anything, but on the average, it costs me N10,000 to N15,000 monthly to maintain it. By my calculations, it takes an average of N150,000 to keep this hair. I might be economical with the truth to say that I have used over 20 combs. I have one permanently inside my car, in the house and my pocket.
“There are people who, by my look, will tag me irresponsible. I attended boardroom meeting where people feel that my views don’t count until I convince them beyond reasonable doubt. They have the impression that nothing good will come from a man who keeps his hair like a woman.
“To a large extent, it has denied me couple of things even when I have all it takes. But I have no reason to complain because this same look has stood me out in a crowd. Initially, my wife has reservations about the hair and even pressed I cut it, but she was incidentally the first person to weave it. She is comfortable and has even enjoyed the attention the hair has given me from men and women.
“I have had two to three encounters with gays. Sometime in 2009 in my radio station, somebody had come to pick up a price he won; unfortunately the person with it was not around. In attempt to keep him busy, he started acting funny. I felt like punching him but had to let go.
“On another instance, I touched one car in admiration one late evening and suddenly, an Alhaji came from behind me and started toasting me. I had to run because I did not want to be abused. As a journalist, sometimes when I cover events, I saw how some men will look at me in admiration but I had to always activate defence mechanism to check their advances.”