Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Boipelo's Story

I first met Boipelo at a Hairdressing Salon and Boutique in Francistown, Botswana. I was a frequent visitor to the Salon during my time in Francistown as it was the place of work of my girlfriend, and later wife, Betty. During our courtship I would head to the Salon every day after I finished work at Tonota College of Education. I spent many hours hanging out there and I got to know all of the hairdressers very well. The Salon was in downtown Francistown and was always a hub of activity. The turnover of clients was impressive – partly due to the fact that most men in Botswana keep their hair very short and visit a Salon at least fortnightly and partly because many of the women change their hairstyles frequently.
This tendency of women changing their hairstyles so regularly led to me having great difficulties in placing people I’d previously met. When I started lecturing at TCE I used hairstyle as one way of memorising the names of my students and colleagues. The strategy was doomed from the first week as a student who had closed cropped hair on a Monday might have flowing locks by the weekend. Someone in Southern Africa makes a very good living in selling hair extensions I can tell you.
The Salon had great warmth about it and I was very happy to be part of the scene. I quickly became acquainted with many new people who visited the Salon for a haircut, styling or to visit the Boutique which was integrated into the Salon. It was in this context that I got to know Boipelo. She was the youngest of the stylists and a beautiful and vibrant young woman. When I met her first she was only twenty years old but was already an experienced and talented hairdresser. Boipelo was very popular with all the clients in the Salon. She was one of the girls; always happy go lucky and enjoying the atmosphere of a workplace full of friends. She was also very popular with the men. I’m sure that this was partly because of her physical beauty but also was due to her warmth and sense of fun. Boipelo had a figure that women all over the world would envy and an unblemished complexion. She had one modelling competitions and this would not surprise anyone who met her as she moved with grace and elegance. Boipelo also dressed immaculately and took great pride in her appearance. She had a real zest for life. Boipelo was very well mannered and would always greet me ‘Hello Uncle, how are you?’ whenever I turned up at the Salon. One would always notice if she wasn’t at work on a given day as although the place would still be busy and the atmosphere lively a certain sparkle would be missing.

No comments: