Sarah: Spring 2012 in Ghana – Hair

Yesterday, I shaved all of my hair off. Here is that story.

I want you to honestly believe me when I say that for the last few months I’ve toyed with the idea of shaving my hair. This was partly a “carpe diem” moment, but also one about which I talked a big game. I did it. The weather in Ghana is more or less 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and I don’t need to explain to you all about Florida summers. We’re lucky if we’re wearing pants come November. So as part of the longest summer of my life, I had to do what could easily be the one time in my life I take a buzzer to my scalp.

My hair was a good few inches down my chest, and finally at the length where I could braid it nicely. Yet, with all of the walking, sweating and general dirtiness that I dealt with, I never felt like I looked good here. I called up my friend from Idaho that I met here, and he went with me to the nearest barbershop. Coming out of campus, there’s a traffic light, but the main road keeps going into East Legon if you go straight through the intersection. Without even walking a block, I approached “Chill Barber Shop” with a faded poster of Ludacris. This was the place. I walked in, and two men were just sitting on their chairs watching dubbed Bollywood soap operas. I said I wanted to shave my head. One guy explained that the barber was out buying stuff, but he’d call me within the hour, so I left my number and we ventured off.

Walking around East Legon in the daytime was nice. I bought a “hanky” for the sweat, since everyone around here has one. That was a good 50 pesewas spent. I woman was selling bras on the side of the road, bootleg dvds, you name it, you could find it there. I got a fruit cocktail drink to get out of the heat for a little bit, but then just as promised, I got the call “This is the barber. You have to come now.”

This was definitely the experience of a lifetime. I swear the barber looked exactly like a smaller (less buff) version of Lafayette on True Blood. His name is Enoch, and he has nicer nails that I’ll ever have, but that’s beside the point. He first tried to take the buzzer to my head, then tried just hacking away at my ponytail. Neither of which really worked. Eventually he figured out a technique, all while the same Bollywood soap was playing the background. A few people stopped and stared, and I’m pretty sure that they didn’t know I was a woman because I had the cover up over my clothes. Oh well, that wasn’t the only time I was mistaken for a man yesterday. I’m glad Idaho went with me though – at least for moral support. We weren’t really doing much yesterday anyway.

Enoch was really careful, almost to the point that I’m pretty sure that the number of times he’s cut a white man’s hair could fit on his fingers. I asked for a mohawk, and he was a little confused, but I said “just like yours,” and I think he got the message. It turned out great, and I can feel the wind on my head. It’s amazing. I actually put on a jacket when I woke up this morning. The only real shame is that I bought some shampoo before I decided I’d actually go through with it, but that was only 5 cedi.

I asked him how much I owed him, and he said 4 cedi (2-3 dollars). I laughed and gave him 5. Everyone says that he probably sold my hair afterwards, but I don’t mind. Perhaps I should have donated it, but it’s too late now. When I went to the mall, the pharmacist jokingly asked why I didn’t give it to her. I’m pretty sure that the African girls are pretty confused about why I’d chop it all off, but I have my reasons.

I’ve gotten a range of reactions, from a woman in the bathroom at the mall asking if I was a lady, to my fellow obruni saying that he’s proud of me. A lot of girls said that they wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but honestly, I’m sure they could if they really wanted to try.

I’ll take a proper picture soon!


One thought on “Sarah: Spring 2012 in Ghana – Hair

  1. Hi Sarah, My name is Joy and I am a reporting student at UF. I’m doing a story about studying abroad and I would love if I could interview you. if you are available, please send me an email as soon as possible to Thank you for your help!

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