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Northern Traditional Barbers And Their Place In The Modern World



Especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, Wanzami (Local Barber) are known as professionals that specialises in herbal medicine which aid people’s infections and diseases and more prominently conducting circumcision both for children, and women (women genital circumcision), repositioning of bone fractures or dislocations among others.For the people of yesteryears, Wanzami were like medical doctors then,which they heavily depend on them for health-care and indeed works good for the people. But no one knows how many patients were victimized in the course of medication.

Gradually, as modern times emerges especially the medical infrastructures provided by the then colonial masters, the ‘crude’ Wanzami medicine vanishes, But not in every angle of the country, as there are existing larger that opined to go with the old fashioned way. So sad. However, the then wanzanci wasn’t exactly the same nowadays, the profession was largely defeated by the adaptation of the modern technologies which was made to alleviate people’s efforts in achieving certain task. Aska (locally stainless steel made blade ) replaces with Razor blade,Makanna (Manual clipper) also turn to electrical one,in fact more recently people were using shaving gel and powder to get rid of their hair in a wipe.
In the past, they use a blacksmith’s made toolkit with their charmed Zabira (their toolkit and other stuff carrier), which consist variety of blades, scissors and knives, along with a metal cup hung on it and a soap with other herbs usually to be use after shavings. The emerges of the deadly virus HIV and AIDs made people to notice they were potential carrier’s of the virus if they keep patronising the unhygienic barber; using same blade without sterilizing it to avoid infecting the next year. That fought can only be made by those that were enlightened about the virus by activist and mass media,but for those information poor citizens, they were calmly patronising their Wanzamai with the potential of being infected with the transmitted disease. And lots of them die silent death. In the contrary, as media organizations and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) puts more effort in sensitization and combatting the HIV and AIDs especially the conditions which one can contract with the virus, then lots people realises the negative ill of going to the local baber.
An interview with Mallam Muhammad wanzan,a veteran local barber operating at Central Mosque Abuja, gave his reasons that kept his business alive. “This profession of wanzanci is mostly inherited from generation to generations. I have been practicing this for over 25 years now. Coming this December will mark my 13th year here in Abuja. I was advised to move here by one of my customer who only comes to the village occasionally and enjoys my services. He prefers my services the most and even recommends it to his colleagues. So i moved to Abuja with my parents permission and settle here in Central Mosque. Mallam wanzan said, having a new start wasn’t easy because he has to dance with tone of modern city (everything unique and tidy). ” When i came i have to change the way i use to do my work back in the village and indeed add certain values to it. People  in Abuja are so sensitive about personal hygiene, thus, if we go to old fashioned way, we still have to take adequate measures to ensure their safety. “Said Wanzan”. ” I used local blades (Aska,but before i shave one’s hair with it i must sterilize it with spirit then burn it.
Mallam wanzan said that the services was so cheap in the village while they charge people much here considering package of the services. For that, I can afford lots of things, my kids bcan attend private schools, likewise food and shelter.