About Me

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Geoffrey T. Muhoozi is a Ugandan trained Public Relations Practitioner and Journalist. He Studied at Makerere University Kampala and read Mass Communication with a bias in Public Relations. In between the course, he studied the Art of Public Speaking. He joined Uganda’s Leading Daily, The New Vision during his second year and practiced journalism till he left for The United Kingdom.In the UK, he persued an NCC International Diploma in Computing at London College of Business Studies and Computing. He went on to do a Masters Degree in Business Administration [MBA]specialsing in Marketing. In spite of being in The United Kingdom, he still contributes for The New Vision and The Sunday Vision newspapers when time allows.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

DIY haircuts in the UK Vs traditional culture.

By Geoffrey Muhoozi in London

Does any one remember that taboo to do with shaving one’s own hair? If not, in those days before we came to the UK, many cultures or tribes in Uganda considered shaving one’s own head a taboo and had lots of stories associated to it.

Ever heard about the DIY hair cut? If not it is the ‘Do It Yourself’ haircut. Here in the UK, many have gone against the taboo in the name of saving an extra penny that would have gone towards having to visit the barber. The cost of a shave is between £5 and £15 [15.000- 45.000] depending on which barber you go to. If it were back home in Uganda that would be shave at Mugisha’s barber shop at Workers’ House, where big shots in Government have their hair cuts.

The first time I saw a person shave their own head, I was mesmerised and couldn’t believe it because the guy had mastered the art of the DIY haircut and did it perfectly well. Owing to the fact that I worked with this guy, the next morning while at work, he was complimented by a fellow workmate about the nice and clean shave he had got. He was even asked at which barber shop he had had the haircut.

Asked why he went against the Buganda culture of not shaving one’s own head and if he had been a barber in Uganda, Tony told me he even had no idea how to hold the shaving machine but learnt it after spending too much on haircuts and could spend no more. He was also quick to tell me that one day, I would be doing it too and I am glad to report that I am slowly but surely picking up on the DIY haircuts because a shaving machine costs the same price for a haircut.

The only problem with this DIY thing is that you can’t have any other shave apart from the Kaguta cut or call it the clean shave. You can not have the famous 90’s french cut and if you are really a master of the art you get something close to that. Because of the increasing DIY cuts, one may think that there are no saloons or if any, then the business is not lucrative. Well, its may be true because most saloons that work on men’s hair specialise in white people’s hair and at times only have one person who deals with ‘our’ type of hair.

To confirm this, I tried visiting various saloons owned by Indians and Britons and several of them told me to try the one at the end of the street, another locality or told me that the barber who can handle my type of hair works a different shift. One particular saloon in Tooting had ‘our’ hair section upstairs and this was run by Ghanians.

I always wondered why so many black men had adopted the culture of plaiting their hair and even at one point swore never to plait my hair but when it hit me so hard that a hair cut was damn expensive, I reconsidered my position and at one stage almost plaited it because it had over grown. Not that I didn’t have the money to shave it, but the time to do it was also not there. When the going gets tough, the tough get going so they say. So I tried the DIY and fairly scored and had to wear a cap for a week until my hair grew even.

When it comes to the female species, like Harry Sagara calls them, not so different from our kind of hair lifestyle. Few take time off to visit the saloon. They just buy the hot combs and the DIY starts. If not ‘DIYing’, friends are there to help. Then, in comes the ‘mobile saloons’. These come in form of ladies on call to plait customers’ hair. All it takes is a phone call, an appointment and directions to your place and they will be there to do it for between £30 - £50 [Shs90.000-150.000].

Actually almost every household has a saloon in it and who knows, within years none of us may have to visit the saloon except for a nice shave a day before getting onto that British Airways flight to Entebbe. No one cares about your haircut style; they are busy chasing buses to get to work because time is money.

Ps. Published by the Sunday Vision, Nov 28, 2004