Meet Dirk Winterbach Street’s barber master

Mr Tumelo Lekubu with one of his loyal clients, Mr TK Simelane.

BURGERSFORT – Barbering is becoming a popular career path for most men in town. On every street corner, be it in the villages or in town, there are several new barbers waiting for their next customers.Steelburger/Lydenburg News took the time to know and learn about this job, which seems to be booming in the town. In order to give an insight as to what a typical day-to-day barbering job involves, this reporter visited Mr Tumelo Lekubu, who works along Dirk Winterbach Street. Lekubu (33) told Steelburger/Lydenburg News that men’s grooming has became big business all over the country, as more males want to look good and stylish.Its 07:00 on a Wednesday, and Lekubu takes a taxi from his village in the deep rural area of Taung Village, about 40 kilometres outside Burgersfort. He is carrying his hair-cutting kit which includes clippers, combs, mirrors, aftershave shampoos and a toolbox with some wrenches and screws, just in case one of the machines break. He also has a car battery, which he connects as a source of power.Around 08:30, he arrives at the barbershop in the town. It is a worn-out tent with poles that look askew because of the recent heavy rain. He buys a copy of the newspaper to get a daily dose of life all over the country.”I am all set for the real barbering work day,” he tells a gentleman who sells caps, hoodies, and shades next to him. The first customer arrives, an elderly man requiring a short back and sides.”I am very familiar with this gentleman, I have been cutting his hair for several years. I use traditional barbering techniques including clipper over comb to achieve the required style before blow-drying to finish and shaving the neck.”While carrying out the haircut, he discusses many things, including the forthcoming football season and some lack of developments in the local municipality.”The social aspect of hairdressing and barbering is what I enjoy a great deal. Regular customers soon become friends and barbering can soon feel strangely non-work like,” Lekubu adds.The customer is thoroughly brushed down before he hands over R20 to pay for the cut. Following his departure, the barber’s unit is wiped down with combs and scissors being cleaned, the seat brushed down, and all hair swept away, ready for the next client.”From 10:00 there is generally a steady trickle of customers as people slowly get going and the town gets busier. Often, the shop will be busy during month-end. Sometimes you get from four to seven guys waiting in line for a hair cut,” he says.Around lunchtime, Lekubu goes to a local supermarket to buy something to eat. He normally takes from 15 to 30 minutes during the time as working customers prefer cutting during lunch.

The afternoon continues to be busy. We see the usual wide range of clients and cuts. From unwilling two-year-olds being blackmailed by their parents into having a haircut with a huge bag of sweets, to pensioners wishing they had more hair to cut.All are very entertaining and they enjoy a buzz of conversation and banter between customers and Lekubu all afternoon.

Around 16:00, crowds of people in the town are starting to thin, and for the first time he currently has no one waiting. He tidies his unit, cleaning combs and clippers, and replaces gowns for fresh ones ready for the next day.

On that day Lekubu managed to make R300. He takes a taxi back to his village where he is known as the “barber master”.

Among the hairstyles he does is a chiskop (bald hair cut), the fashionable Mohican hairstyle, brush cut, and many more styles on demand.

Gilbert Motseo

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