Hidden Stories: a barber from Abidjan

[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]C[/mks_dropcap]harly Parker, also known as “Chal,” is a barber living in the economic capital of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan. Whether you go in the morning or in the evening, you will always find him with a client, accompanied by a dozen of children outside the barber shop. If you are as white as I am, it is, however, hard to go unseen.

The export of cocoa and raw cashew nuts is one of the largest economies in Africa. However, poverty is still abundant and racial differences are omnipresent. Indeed, you can find privileged black people, but you cannot find underprivileged white people in the country. This said, coming to the barber shop’s street, which is on the corner of my parent’s house, it was inevitable to get people’s attention.

Taking it from a brighter note, the Ivorian culture is warm and welcoming, which makes the constant staring at your skin less uncomfortable. People rushed to play with my two dogs, and they let you get lost in their environment as you like, and for as long as you feel like.

I went to the barber shop where my dad gets his haircut twice: each haircut costs around 500 C.F.A, which would be approximately €0.80, a price hard to beat in Amsterdam unless done by a close friend. As for Charly Parker, he kept doing his job without being bothered by the sound of the camera. He answered my questions, smiled, and continued. The children, however, seemed to be fascinated by the photos and were glad to be photographed.

There is no incredible story behind the pictures, except the one of the daily life of an Ivorian barber from Zone 4 of the capital. Charly Parker, one barber surrounded by the joy and the love of a dozen of children running around his barber shop.

Photos: Isabel Bonnet / Final editing: Ramona Nouse


Isabel Bonnet
Isabel Bonnet is a 20-year-old first-year student and a passionate photographer, which is why she’ll be a Medium photographer this year. French and Venezuelan, she has lived in five countries around the world and currently speak four languages. She studied journalism and worked as a photo editor in a newspaper for two years in Florida, but decided she needed to come back to her European roots! When she’s not behind her camera or on a plane, she falls on the floor or do all sorts of clumsy things. She hopes to find the path to success in Amsterdam alongside the Medium Magazine team!

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