“WHATEVER a man can do, a woman can do it, even better,” is a saying in this part of the world. This has been proven in many professions and vacations as well. Name it – in education, civil service, accountancy, medicine, and a lot more. And one area where women are seen to be waxing strong is the barbing profession.
A barber, according to the Oxford dictionary, is a person whose profession is to cut “mainly male” customers’ hair and beard. Now, the profession is expanding to areas as costomotology and hair dressing. Barbing is not new. It has a long history where razors have been found to be used by Egyptians in 5000BC.
They rendered the first barbing services and were highly respected for that. And in the late 19th and 20th century, the barbing profession grew and barber shops became a common business where people would go to have their hair cut by a professional barber with good equipment for rinsing and washing hair and special barber chairs.
The barbing profession is for men and women. In this country, there appears to be a spectacular female neck deep in the job who is uniquely called a “barber”and the job qualifications for both males and females are the same. The first woman barber is Mollie Edmonds Longview, who died at the age of 86 in the state of Texas.
As stated earlier, barbing is a noble profession and you have to possess some inate qualities to be a good barber. The first is adaptability. This involves talent and confidence as the essential skills. It has been proven that to be a great barber, you must be adaptable and always willing to learn. This is because, hair style has trends-change and a great barber will only stay afloat of the career by being able to keep up with those changes and embrace new trends.
Frankly speaking, things are fast changing for good and women are not lagging in all spheres as they are delving into some jobs exclusively earlier occupied by men. One of such is Miss Ogochukwu Nwokolo, a 22 year old who hails from Umuawulu, Awka South local government area of Anambra State, but resides in Asaba. She is determined, strong willed, undaunted, and highly talented, considering the dexterity with which she applies her skills. She joined the league of Barbers in 2016, having been introduced into the job by one Mr Obiora Ideba in Asaba, Delta State capital.
Though she dropped out of school at the age of 13 years in JSS 2 due to financial problems, she never allowed that initial challenge to deter her focus in life. The lady barber has a lot to offer with regards to her upbringing, how she started life and what she is now.
LIFE AS A YOUNG GIRL:
She said, “at a younger age, I was staying with an aunt in Yola, Adamawa State. At the age of 9 years, she was giving me things like snacks, soft drinks and water to hawk after school. Most times, I don’t go to school while some times I will go late to school and I found it very difficult to concentrate because of tiredness. This greatly affected my interest in education in addition to financial challenge and at some point, I eventually dropped out of school as I couldn’t cope again with such a heavy burden.
I had to relocate to Ibusa, Oshimili North local government area of the Delta where my mother resided, who also engaged me in hawking fruits of all types, it was in the process that I met Mr Obiora Ideba in Asaba who coached me on how to barb”.
On why she became a barber, Ogochukwu said that she developed the passion for barbing while she was much younger.
According to her, “barbing of hair is a work that I enjoy doing without stress, I didn’t see it as a man’s work alone, so I was focused when I was learning it to enable me master all the styles as well as add my own creativity”.
When asked whether her parents supported her during her apprenticeship and start up, Ogochukwu said that they didn’t have any choice on whether to stop her or not because of the level of poverty the family was confronted with at that time.
She said for now, “I am learning how to fix weavon and weave all styles of hair, so that I can combine the two and make out a living with them.”
She recalled,”I used to help my mother in hawking fruits to enable the family put food on the table, but realized that there was too much stress in that area of business, so I decided to think of what to do in terms of skill acquisition to help me and my family survive the harsh economic situation we were confronted with.”
POTENTIAL HUSBAND AND JOB SUSTAINABILITY:
When asked on whether her husband woulf like her continue as a barber, she said, “barbing of hair is one job I love doing and any man that will come to ask my hand in marriage, I will try to convince him on the ground that he will allow me to continue with the job I love doing.
“For now, I don’t have any friend at all. In fact, I devote my entire time to the job, apparently because of the way and where I was brought up as a young girl. At that time, I was not allowed to mingle with people and also due to the fact that I dropped out of school, I find it difficult to relate with my peers to avoid insults.”
“In life every body knows his\her foundation, so, I want to struggle to do something to assist my mother who has been suffering all through to raise me and my sister to an acceptable standard in the society. I want to use this medium to appeal for assistance from well meaning Nigerians and government to help me grow my trade and upscale my career path because at the moment, I am currently working for someone for a little pay”.
ADVICE TO HER PEERS:
On her advice to fellow girls who are still looking for what to do, she said that they should not be lazy in life. “I would rather advise them to try and learn a trade and be focused, especially at this period of economic down-turn so that they can survive, instead of waiting for a man to depend upon, because one day the man will be tired of giving, get angry and stop.
Living a life of begging every day is very risky because it might tempt you to be on the road looking for men to assist, especially this period people are not safe in terms of bad men and women. For me, I want to be a responsible woman who is always there to assist her husband and children.”
Also speaking, Mr Obiora Ideba, who incidentally introduced Ogochukwu to barbing and coached her on how to barb hair, described her as a very humble and hardworking girl who is focused to learn the work.
“Ogochukwu walked into my barbing and laundry shop in 2016 and told me about her interest for the job. Initially I was not convinced, but she kept coming to assist in the laundry, especially the barbing work which she really showed keen interest in and dedication to. I have not seen anything wrong in her as young growing lady, she is quite a unique lady who is dedicated to work and I wish her good luck in life as she continues to struggle to eke out a living as a woman. I know that she will succeed,” he said.
By Chibuzor Isichei