A cut above the rest…How a barber survived the Covid-19 quagmire

The Chronicle

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Reporter

On a bad day, he would have between five and eight clients stopping by for a shave or haircut. Life was good. He would be able to fend for his family, meet his personal needs and even be able to enjoy an outing with his friends.

All this was on an income realised when his clientele wasn’t that impressive. One can only imagine what it would be like with more numbers of clients knocking at his corner Robert Mugabe Way and Eighth Avenue business premises where he rents a chair for his haircut and shaves business.

Chanke Dube, known in football circles as Chanke weBosso, an unapologetic Tshilamoya fan and a life member of the club, loves his work. He is passionate about it and every client gets his utmost attention.

Every day he wakes up and gets a ride from Cowdray Park suburb to the city centre to do what he loves most.

Everything was going well for Chanke until Zimbabwe was visited by the novel coronavirus.

“The lockdown hit me hard as a barber because this profession is my only source of income. So, when we were told to shut our businesses, while we appreciated that it was for the good of the nation as the Government looked at the bigger picture of preserving life, we had to endure the pain of losing income unlike those who were in formal employment because their salaries still came through.

“Even vendors were still selling their wares although once in a while they would be involved in a cat and mouse race with law enforcement agents. Nevertheless, they were managing to raise a few cents, unlike us barbers.

“My life almost came to a standstill because I had rent to pay both where we operate from and at my place of residence. I am thankful to my landlord in Cowdray Park because of the appreciation that I wasn’t earning anything and as such did not demand rentals for almost two months but once we started operating, I was in arrears.

“What was hard for me and the rest of the guys in the same industry is that we still had to pay rentals for our business premises despite not having been operational for almost two months. It was a bit below the belt and we know some who never recovered and completely left the profession,” he said.

The lockdown forced Chanke to open a makeshift barber shop at his lodgings.
“When I realised that life was giving me lemons, I had to make lemonade. I engaged the landlord so that I could at least open a makeshift shop at home for I didn’t know when authorities would lift the full lockdown since Covid-19 cases seemed to be escalating not only in Zimbabwe but even in other countries.

“I did get a few clients and I understood because I wasn’t operating from my territory so like a predator hunting in an unfamiliar forest, finding prey is never easy. At my usual place and on a bad day I would have between five and eight clients but in this unknown forest I would go for even five days without a client, that is how bad the situation was for a barber like me,” he said.

On rare occasions, some of his regular clients would drive by for a shave and at times they gave him tips which kept him going.

It remained gloomy for Chanke until the relaxation of lockdown regulations in June. While the business community was happy, Chanke greeted the new development with a half-hearted smile.

“You ask any barber, winter is not the best time, business is generally low, but your rentals remain the same. So, the relaxation of regulations was a welcome development indeed but after so many months in the wilderness, one is expected to come back to light on a bang but it was worth a smile,” he said.

The lockdown’s effects are still being felt by Chanke as some of his clients learnt to live without a barber as they bought clippers and now shave at home.

“Some of my regular customers went for good, they never returned as a result of this virus but  new ones are coming through and slowly but surely the road is getting a bit clearer now,” he said. [email protected]

Article Source: The Chronicle

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