Down Memory Lane 1- Kinyozi

Posted: August 6, 2014 in Haircut, Humour, Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been hanging out with my nephew Ethan the last two days and I can’t help but marvel at how his upbringing is totally different from how mine was.
Since the differences are numerous, this article looks only at the Kinyozi aspect.

A kinyozi was a pretty simple affair.
All you needed to start one was a wooden chair,
two bed sheets for covering the customer during the procedure,
2 large mirrors; one in front and the other suspended behind but slightly above the level of the customer’s head.
You also needed a spray bottle, methylated spirit and most importantly a shaving machine.
Lest I forget, a cow’s tail fixed onto some stick.

Before you got to the barber though, you had to have come of age.
There was a stage in life when a kid was considered too young to visit the barber.
Stage instead of age because to some of us, the size of our heads never corelated with our ages.
Some of us ‘qualified’ to visit the barber at a much tender age. I think a person like Honourable Fred Gumo must have gone to the barber a few weeks after birth.

Now for those whose heads were developing normally, they would be sorted by their mothers or whoever was older and felt like creating a laughing stock out of them.
Depending on what was available, a razor blade or a pair of scissors, the outcome would either be a clean shaven head with multiple regions where the razor went deeper than it was supposed to or a head with stripes and patchy hairy areas were it done with a pair of scissors.

Either way you would be a laughing stock for your crew until the week ended when you hair follicles would come at your mercy with new dead-life.

Back to the Kinyozi.
On a saturday afternoon, after taking lunch and a bath( mostly the type where you put water in a black basin so that the sun warms the water for you), you would be given Ksh 10 which was tied by the mother in a handkerchief.
You wonder why? Well you see it was never a 10 shilling coin but rather a mixture of 1 shilling and 50cent coins. Sometimes they would be as many as 13 coins.
And because for some reason while growing up all our pockets had holes, the coins would be tied in a hanky and then we would hold the coins tightly in our hands for fear of losing them and having to face Mum’s slippers or pinches in the inner thigh.
The hanky would be soaked in sweat by the time we arrived at the Kinyozi.

In the Kinyozi, there was a hard bench outside as you awaited your turn to be shaved.
Not the comfortable swivell chairs and a newspaper or magazine at your disposal or a TV programme or some cool music in the background as is the case nowadays.
There was a radio though, which used electricity anyway and the antennae was modified from a cloth hanger. It worked fine all the same.
There was no CDs, DVDs or Flash Disks. Just Radio Cassettes which would be forwarded or rewinded using a Biro pen.
For some reason, the Babrber only had Reggae tapes.
That’s how I learned many Bob Marley and Glen Washington’s songs which I can sing along to even today… I was particularly fond of Glen’s Burning Fire.

When your turn came, the barber would show you to the chair and tie you neck high with whatever the cloths were. Maybe they were bed sheets or old curtains.
Sometimes it would be made so tight..
But because children were meant to be seen and not heard, he would only realize his mistake when he noticed your temple veins bulging and your eyes reddening.

He would ask the style you want, then you would pretend to be looking at the long list of styles available (that list of black Americans faces and heads) the answer would invariably be one of the following;

Either ‘nyoa ya shule’ which meant clear every visible piece of hair or ‘bakisha kidogo ya cut’ which meant the schools were closed and you were on holiday.
So for the next 3 minutes( yes just 3 minutes imagine!), the guy would work on your head meticulously.
All the while you are amazed at how your appearance has changed.
Among exposed features were sharp corners and dents which had until then been covered by hair
If he was a funny guy, he would ask whether you wanted your beard shaved as well.

The ‘cut’ which was our swag back then always went bad no matter what.
And If you tried to raise an issue with the barber about the ‘cut’, he would respond in an don’t care manner saying, “Shida ni vile nywele yako inamea bila mpango ama tumalize tu nywele yote bas?”
But being on holiday, you needed the swag of some hair on your head, so you would ignore the suggestion as he applied the Methylated spirit which always pained along the ‘cut’ line, spray you with some water, comb your head with a shoe brush and then you’d be on your way after paying for the service delivered.

On arriving home, your mother would ask you just one question, “Ulipakwa spirit?”
Because that was really important.
Then the big brothers would always laugh at the mistakes the barber made.

You would think you’ll live with the ‘stigma’ of a bad hair cut till the next visit however, by the next morning, no one cared whether you were shaved with a razor blade, a pair of scissors or the Barber with poor skills. Everyone forgot and no one noticed. It was just a bunch of kids having fun in school or at home.

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Comments
  1. Sam Asselo says:

    Thank you Maliado! They were just harassing us, they lacked talent anyway it was just 10 bob

    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  2. Dan Murano says:

    amaZing stuff.The barber was always right.Our headz were oblate spheroid !!

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  3. Sam Asselo says:

    Thank you so much Celpher. Am glad you stopped by 🙂
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  4. Celpher says:

    He he, uv vividly reminded me of my childhood! Thz is so interesting Aselo!

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  5. Sam Asselo says:

    hahaha Cheche I see you’ve thrown the first stone 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by and the complement….I appreciate that
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  6. fay lily says:

    thts a nice blog…your childhood was wanting hehehe anwy you should stop sitting on your talent and do something am sure soo many would love to read this

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  7. Sam Asselo says:

    Thank you Tim; but me ni fan wa Fred Gumo…..you know we only make fun of people we love, the people we don’t we either back bite or keep quiet and wait for an ‘ I knew this would happen’ moment 😉
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  8. Tim says:

    Good job Mr. Asselo. Clearly you aren’t Fred Gumos biggest fan.

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  9. Sam Asselo says:

    He he thanks Emma, anyway we are from far (direct translation)
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  10. kemuntomayio says:

    Welcome back,that moment when you realize how things have changed#team ancestors…..old good memories recaptured in good writing here😃😅

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  11. Sam Asselo says:

    Thank you for stopping by Mollet. I have just started, more to come I promise
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  12. mollymollet says:

    hahaha totally home with that damn u should write often

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  13. Sam Asselo says:

    Hehehe Thanks Abby! More to come so brace yourself..
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  14. abby says:

    Nothing can describe how much I laughed after reading this! 🙂 *kufdead*

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  15. Sam Asselo says:

    Thanks for stopping by Kivs; nlisahau kusema our mothers would tell us to shave so that we use less soap when bathing 🙂
    Sent from my BlackBerry®

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  16. Kivindu says:

    hehehe I totally agree with you

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