Freetown, Baby!


Brothers by jc2010sl
April 21, 2010, 10:04 pm
Filed under: society

I’ve been going to the same barber on Howe Street since I arrived in Freetown. It’s a fairly rough and ready shack just off the street, but it does the job. Gibril, the barber, notices me now as I stroll down the street and will beckon me over. I stopped by after lunch the other day for a trim, and took a seat on a stool to wait my turn.

As Gibril finished with his customer, he gestured me over. There was another man who’d clearly been waiting before me, who looked understandably peeved that I was jumping the queue. I said to Gibril “It’s fine, this guy was before me”, “No, no, it’s OK, he’s my brother.” I looked across to the waiting man, and back to Gibril, but there was no resemblance that I could see. He shook his head wearily and sat back down.

It seems strange to say, but this was the first time I’d be made so consciously aware of preferential treatment solely because of the colour of my skin. Clearly, I’m not oblivious to the fact that my standard of living is vastly higher than the majority of Salones. Nor the fact that we have staff to clean our houses, guard our gates, and drive our cars.

I guess I’d rationalised these server – consumer relationships as economic. They are paid to do these jobs, they do them for the wealthy Salones as well; my colour is incidental.

But this seemed to be something different – a sense that my colour entitled me to more. It didn’t feel right to me, nor to Gibril’s brother.

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