I usually have my hair cut by a friend. My last haircut was in Kinshasa some months ago and it was done by Donata, a Swiss friend who directed the International Red Cross in Congo. Lately my long curly hair has been driving me nuts. I enjoyed the bozo the clown look in college but with the heat here and the lack of running water it’s not at all desirable. My problem: I don’t have any friends in Kisangani who know how to cut my hair. I’m not sure that I trust any of the thousands of little salon kiosks to cut straight blond white-guy hair either. It doesn’t help any that I have seen my share of European men walking around with freak nasty haircuts. Finally I came to the conclusion that it’s just a question of the lesser of two evils… long and curly or short and hideous.
Today I decided that I just wanted my hair cut at any cost. My friend Dieu told me that the best barber shop in town could do the job. I built up some courage, combed down my bed head, put some shoes on and out we went. The place is called Dr. Jaff and it looked alright on the outside (decent sized colorful wooden shed). Inside it was small and cramped but they had sturdy wooden chairs to sit on and there were a lot of mirrors on every wall (mirrors are rare here), so at least I’d be able to see the damage from all angles. I asked if the doctor was in. They said he was out but that a nurse would take care of me. They asked me what style I wanted and I tried to explain short but not bald. There were hundreds of drawings of haircuts for black men on the wall and one poster of four white guys that looked like the New Kids on the Block. I pointed to one that looked semi-normal and said, “kind of like that”. A few times the generator running all of the electric clippers shut down and the barber had to run outside to adjust it. I enjoyed the sparks that shot out of the power strip that was nailed to the counter. There was a fan on that kept us all cool but blew my hair all over the place and into my face as the barber was cutting it.
The final analysis: this might be the best and cheapest barbershop haircut I’ve ever had. I’m so glad that I got over myself and took the plunge. My hair is very short and I am very happy about it!