West Africa, as Seen From Its Barber Shops 

“The barbershop is an intimate space where people come to discuss what they cannot speak about in their homes or in public, including politics and even their lovers,” said Andrew Esiebo, who has photographed scores of West African barbershops. “It’s one of the few spaces where people from different walks of life, from different classes, mix….”Inside the barbershops, he found “religious imagery, hip-hop artists, posters of soccer teams and icons of global black culture.” He also discovered that the hairstyles customers chose were often inspired by black American music idols and reflected the “tensions between their African and global blackness.” In Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, he realized, the shops and the hairstyles were much the same. Arbitrary colonial borders did not mask the commonalities in what the barbers and their businesses represented.

(James Estrin, NY Times Lens Blog)

Photos by Andrew Esiebo

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