Saturday, April 13, 2024

Meet Nairobi barber charging Sh. 8,000 to shave clients with knives, hammer, spades

What would an ordinary experience at the barber be like for a man? A clean comfortable shave is often what men seek when they visit; but there’s more to life at a barbershop.

Men have always argued that finding a barber who understands the symmetry of their head is hard. When they do, it becomes hard to let them go especially when they are served with a dash of chit-chat and friendly neighbourhood news.

Kenyan barbers can attest to the loyalty they have earned from their clients.

Men are often considered risk-takers. Fellow counterparts women will argue this is why life expectancy for the gender is shorter by a few years. Imagine closing your eyes to get shaved by a knife, daunting?

Martin Safari

If you’ve not heard of him, you have probably come across his videos. Martin Safari is a Rwandese barber who has become an internet sensation for clean haircuts with unorthodox tools.

Whilst other barbers will use ordinary tools, the usual hair shaver, clippers and other accessories, Martin Safari’s toolbox will have items such as hammers, knives, chisels, a shovel, an iron box and more.

What’s more, is that Safari will show up to attend to his client’s hair while completely dressed for the part. One would wonder what his inspirations were that led him to this profession.

Growing up, Safari had always imagined himself as an artist. Holding a pallet, brushes, pencils and paint was his only dream as a child. However, his parents had other thoughts lined up. They wanted him to become a medical doctor.

He followed his parents’ guidance and majored in sciences, which led to him abandoning art. This was not until one time at a boarding school in Uganda when a friend requested his help in trimming his hair since he couldn’t afford a haircut outside school.

Since then, shaving people’s hair had become his new hobby. It remained a pass-time activity and soon the demand began rising at school for his services. He recalls smuggling a hair clipper into school.

“I had even stopped asking for pocket money from my parents. So when I went back home for the holidays, I decided to take it to another level. I subscribed to some of the biggest barbers’ YouTube channels and took some online courses,” Safari said in a past interview.

His skills improved so much, to the extent that it was no longer a secret and the school hired him officially as the student’s barber. Little did he know that years later, he would not be making a living from art or medicine.

“I think my talent didn’t fully disappear. People tell me that they see my art just by looking at how I present my content and the way I make a haircut. This gives me satisfaction,” he said.

His talent has earned him a name and reputation in East Africa, Safro. To secure an appointment with the young man, one had to reach out to his Instagram handle Safro Fades, where he posts his unique work.

Speaking to TRT Afrika, Martin Safari revealed that a haircut for a client costs between Sh. 5,000 ($40) and Sh. 8,000 ($60). At the end of every shaving session, his clients look neat and smart, without a single hair uneven and out of place.

The Kigali University alumni stated that his successes have been propelled by the beauty of living in this digital era. He says that he has made it because of consistency and creativity.

“I can imagine that if this was a decade ago, I would just be some other barber. But because of technology and social media platforms, through proper content creation, I’m able to reach my desired audience, willing to pay adequately for my services,” he shared.

Martin Safari also noted that his occupation comes with its own challenges, with the main being people’s scepticism on his ability to deliver. Oftentimes, clients get cold feet upon seeing his tools of trade that they classify as crude weapons

“The major challenge I face is getting people to trust me due to the crazy tools I use. I’m still new in Nairobi and people don’t know me yet. It is therefore difficult to convince a person,” he said.

Safari has gained several international recognitions, such as being named the best content creator in 2023 for the Barber Grammy Awards. He also got the opportunity to become a judge at a barber competition in Yaounde, Cameroon.

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