I knew there was something not quite right about Dumi the very first time I ever laid eyes on him. The problem was, I just couldn’t tell what it was. Thank God for that.
There was a time when I was reputed to be the best hairdresser in Harare, which meant the best in the whole country. Amai Noro was the fussiest customer to ever grace a salon and she would not let any ordinary Kiya- Kiya touch her hair. Having sampled all the salons in Harare- and rejected them all- she settled on ours. The fussiest customer was also the largest motor mouth and gossip- monger.
Once she was our client, we never needed to advertise again, as long as we kept her happy. That was my job and why Mrs Khumalo paid me the highest wage.
Title: Hairdresser of Harare
Author: Tendai Huchu
Hairdresser of Harare is a story set in Harare, Zimbwawe with two of it’s lead characters, Vimbai and Dumisani. Vimbai is presented as the most celebrated and high ranked hairdresser in Mrs Khumalo’s salon but this glory is short lived when Dumi arrives as the replacement of Patricia (former hairdresser at the salon). Vimbai who’s also the narrator, is a single mother and happens to have been sidelined by her family after declining to give up the house, the only one thing that she inherited from her brother who resided in the UK before passing on.
She seems to have it all figured out since she’s able to pay for her daughter school fees, meet the basic needs of her house and also manage to have a house help but not until Dumisani is offered a job at Mrs Khumalo’s salon and all hell breaks loose. Dumi takes over Vimbai’s position as the best hairdresser in the salon and to top it up, he’s given the role of the salon Manager. It is at this point that it dawns to Vimbai that loosing her job at the salon is easy as snapping your fingers.
Things take a turn around when Dumi needs to get a new place and Vimbai agrees to sublet one of her room to him. The sour and enmity that had started sprouting soon turns out to a great friendship which leads to some sort of a ‘relationship,’ a platonic one. Vimbai gets to meet Dumi’s family which is highly reputable, influential and a prominent one in Harare.
Vimbai is warmly welcomed to the family and to her surprise, on her birthday, Dumi’s family gets her a salon turning Vimbai’s dream into reality. This joy is short- lived though once Vimbai discovers some unpalatable dark secrets that Dumi was holding back ( readers are however able to connect the dots and know what lays ahead). Dumi almost lost his life and as a result ended up fleeing to UK leaving Vimbai behind.
I loved the book from the first page and the flow of the story. But towards the end, one can tell it has been rushed. Regardless, this is a must read. I love how Huchu incorporates humor to address some of the issues faced today in the society.
I totally related with the book especially because I’ve also had the pleasure of reading NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘We Need New Names.’ Maybe because the authors are from Zimbabwe? I don’t know but what I’m certain about, is the fact that my heart is fully immersed and well blended with the rich African Literature!
So have you read the book? What’s your take?
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