Haircut business is, undoubtedly, one major source of income for thousands of Nigerians. Many families obviously depend on the business for survival.
The profession seems to have benefitted from the 21st century technology that has redefined peoples’ way of life. Innovations were obviously added to the business to improve customer service delivery.
But in spite of the transformation, the old system of haircut that was practiced decades ago has refused to go into extinction. It has continued to gained patronage from old and young customers.
It could be, because it is affordable, reachable and need less financial investment to start or maintain. It obviously does not require power supply to service its numerous customers neither does it require modem day clipper for a clean haircut. A razor blade that is firmly fitted into an “analogue” clipper could do the magic perfectly well.
Because the barbers lack the capacity and skills to give customers different style of haircut, they attract, mostly, customers with baldhead who need no hairstyle. Surprisingly, younger persons, mostly in their 30s and early 40s, seem to be the largest customers of the “old school practice” because they grow bald head very quickly.
The rising patronage of the old school system has obviously become a big threat to the modern day barbing salon operators. There are indications that customer base of the conventional barbing salon is on continuous depletion, because many younger people have chosen to patronise the “old school” barbers because of their bald head.
The fear that they give less attention to hygiene was, however, discounted by one of the operators, Surajo Dantani, who confirmed that they took hygiene and safety more serious than even the conventional barbers. As a mobile barber, Dantani moves from one part of Abuja to another, servicing the needs of his customers. He said the age-long profession was passed on to him by his late father, who did not only teach him the secret of the job, but stressed the need for safety as well as hygiene:
“As a little boy, I followed my father to our village market where he did the business. He made me develop interest in the business through his actions and appreciations he got from customers. That was how I learned the business and took over from him when he died.
“I was forced to relocate to Abuja few years ago by Boko Haram insurgents who invaded and destroyed our community in Adamawa State. Since then, it has been a great opportunity for me because I have made great fortune since then.
“Each time a new customer comes, a new razor blade is inserted into the ‘local’ clipper and that is what we use for the haircut. Ours is unique because we don’t give style hair cut. Our customers are mostly people with baldhead.”
He disclosed that they have modern clippers that are solar-powered used on request: “Some customers get rashes or other reactions each time they use razor blade for shaving or hair cut. So we use the solar powered clipper for such people.”
Another of his colleagues who has a makeshift shop at Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja, Danbako from Kano State, said he has spent close to 20 years in the business, and he has no regret joining the business. He is unhappy that his little son has refused to develop interest in the business:
“I always try to bring him along with me during holidays or weekends. But he has repeatedly shown less interest in the work. I hope he changes his mind one day. I want him to have a skill that will possibly sustain him and his family, financially, because there are scarcity of government jobs these days.”
He told Daily Sun that they faced customer draught some years back, during the fear of HIV/AIDS: “People were sceptical and afraid to patronise us. The ones that had courage to come insisted that we sterilise the devices properly.
“But that fear has drastically reduced because they have realised that we are more careful than the modern day barbers. In modern salons, a clipper is used for many people without changing the blade. But the case is different with us. We use new blade for each customer.”
Idris Ayuba, preferred to visit the undying old practice for several reasons: “It is the right place for me because I have baldhead. I get cheaper service with them. I negotiate between N100 and N150 for a smooth and clean haircut. But in conventional salon, I am charged between N400 and N500 for a haircut.
“Before now, I visit salon twice or thrice in a week for haircut. And each visit cost me N400. Do the calculations and get the result. But patronising these people helped me greatly. It reduced my visit to salon and cut my expenses.”
Meanwhile, an Abuja based medical practitioner who pleaded anonymity, insisted that the old practice “is unhygienic and should be discouraged.” He encouraged people to get their personal clipper and ensure that no one, outside themselves or trusted immediate family members share it with them: “HIV/AIDS and blood related diseases are still being actively shared in our society, and most of them are shared through blood related activities.