Hidden Stories: a barber from Abidjan

Picture of By Isabel Bonnet

By Isabel Bonnet

[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


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