Father son bonding: A trip to the Barbershop

Among the many memories I’ve had with my father, one of them will stick out for the rest of my life. There’s this tradition amongst the community I come from where when one is initiated into adulthood, your father gives you advice about life. This being after you’ve healed from circumcision. So it came three months after the procedure during the December break from school.

It’s not just the advice that stood out for me but rather the process, the experience. Those are the memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I had never seen him so serious with me but on this day there was no joking around probably to signify that adulthood or ‘adulting’ as you call it nowadays is no joke. I mean as a barely pubescent teen you can’t be expected to grasp certain things but just the experience itself was enough to make me realise we weren’t playing around and that I needed to listen carefully on this day.

You see, my father had never taken me to the barbershop. I mean he had cut my hair with scissors when I was younger. As a matter of fact I remember dreading when the scissors came out because I would end up looking like I had a treasure map on my head and get teased for the week to come at school. But on the day in question, my dad took me to the barbershop for the first time and I’ll never forget it. I had been to one before, and in fact had the same barber for most of my life. Having my dad take me is what I remember most from the trips to Johnny and Victor’s shop. To this day I don’t remember the name of the kinyozi.

Dad woke me up and made me shower, we were headed just a stone throw away from where we lived so I wondered what was with all the formality. That plus knowing that we weren’t going anywhere or there wasn’t going to be a party made me really question the reason I was being forced to get clean before my usual evening bath. We begun our walk and my dad started telling me about his initiation. I remember intently listening and grasping to every word. His was on another level, I remember thinking to myself how easy I have it but that’s a story for another day.

We got there and my father gave them strict instructions on how to cut my hair. Remember these were the guys who had been cutting my hair for quite a while so they already knew what I liked but that didn’t matter because the boss was there. For context I was born in the late 80s and I don’t know how many people took trips to the barbershop with their fathers. What I know is that from my generation the scissors would do the talking. Seeing my often laid-back father take control in this way was new to me. It was the first time I was going completely and utterly bald and I didn’t like it but when it was explained to me that it signified a new beginning in life I embraced it. After we left we then sat and for the first time he addressed me as an equal. To this day I still take time to go to the barbershop at major milestones of my life! When I have children taking them to the barbershop will be more than just cutting hair but a bonding experience with them. What memories are your kids gonna have of you?

6 comments

  1. Eric - Reply

    Great article. I will also definitely adopt this tradition minus the scissors part with my kids😅

  2. GDA - Reply

    Top article and great perspective. The barbershop is a place of peace wortg sharing with our young ones

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