The Hairdresser of Harare Reflects Zimbabwe and the Class Divide

Sandra Aka
Although the salon is a diaspora of influential women, the conversations hardly steer towards what can be done to pilot the country down a path of prosperity and protection for all. As such, if politics is about interests and the power to enforce them then the hairdressers of Harare are examples of people whose voices will never be heard.

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu

Published on September 05, 2015

Published by Ohio University Press

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In The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu, politics is everywhere, even between the teeth of a comb. Khamolo Hair and Beauty Treatment Salon reflects Zimbabwe especially her class divide. The rich pull up to the salon in their luxurious cars wanting to leave it feeling like white women while the hairdressers push thoughts of financial instability and political persecution to the back burner to give clients their desired outcomes. Although the salon is a diaspora of influential women, the conversations hardly steer towards what can be done to pilot the country down a path of prosperity and protection for all. As such, if politics is about interests and the power to enforce them then the hairdressers of Harare are examples of people whose voices will never be heard.

That politics only reflects the interest of the elites is evident in the book’s main characters, Vimbai and Dumi. When the former looks into her daughter’s eyes, she sees not only the father of her child but the man who raped her when she was nineteen: Phillip. Despite his crime, he remained unprosecuted, insulated from the law by both his wealth and connections. Furthermore, when Minister M finds out about Dumi’s sexual                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               orientation she attempts to have him killed like an animal, with the confidence of someone who has the law on her side.

The fact that Vimbai and Dumi are Mrs. Khumalo’s most talented hairdressers is worth reflecting on. Even though they have watched Zimbabwe rear its ugly head into their lives, they still have an unparalleled eye for beauty and a will to beautify everything they touch. Perhaps it is the common people’s capacity for resilience, not the elite’s potential to change, that will create a fairer and safer Zimbabwe.

Sandra Aka is a 23 year old Dartmouth College graduate living on the lower east side of Manhattan. She describes her upbringing as the love child of multiple parent worlds; born in Cameroon and raised between Belgium, The Gambia and the United States. She was first inaugurated into the world of African literary masterpieces by way of ‘The Magic Calabash’ by Nana Grey Johnson and ‘Sizwe Bansi ‘is dead by Athol Fugard. Sandra aspires to become an established playwright and screenwriter and turn both original works and beloved books into cinematographic interpretations.

You can follow her on Instagram as @akasandraa.

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