On a recent afternoon in the dustry suburb of Kamenge, Burundi, every seat in the 112 Boys hair salon is filled.
Just next door in Ja Rule salon – named after a popular American rap artist – a woman gets a short unisex trim. For 500 Burundi francs (about 50 cents), customers can get the popular Marine cut – a buzz, a bit longer on top. More difficult hairstyles cost a bit more.
In one of the poorest countries in the world, hair styling apparently is a popular business to get into – requiring little overhead or tools. Many hairdressers are self-taught. On this busy thoroughfare, it seems that every other business cuts or styles hair.
A few blocks over on a side street, Antoinelle Nahimana has set up a hair- braiding station in an empty lot near her home. Her customer sits on a mat on the ground while she and another hairdresser squat on stools, deftly braiding, and braiding, and braiding. A small crowd of friends and neighbors, both sitting and standing, watch the craftsmanship.
The process can take one or two days, and the cost comes to about $15 for labor and hair extensions – a small fortune when more than half the population lives on $1 or less a day. Few people have jobs, but at least they can afford to spend the time it takes for a fancy 'do.