Inside A Zimbabwean hair salon run by Chelsea fans
It is Monday morning inside a makeshift hair salon in Glen Norah, a populous township 15-km west of central Harare.
A unique feature of this establishment is that all the hairdressers are supporters of English Premier League team Chelsea, and they all turn up for work in the London club’s blue home shirts.
43-year-old Dzakire Mavhezha and his colleagues talk animatedly about the past weekend’s football action.
This hair salon, at the heart of one of the Zimbabwean capital’s most vibrant township, is a centre for intriguing debate in the English Premier League and Chelsea seems to be always the subject of discussion here.
About six hair-dressers, including Mavhezha, take turns plaiting their clients, mostly women.
The clients, even the non-football fans, reveal their fascination at the choice of their hair-dressers’ outfit, a “uniform” to the stylists.
“This is our uniform and we wear it religiously. Our love for Chelsea brought us together,” Mavhezha told The NewsReportLive.
Outside the salon, a Chelsea flag flies full mast as a gentle breeze blows. The flag of a local football club Dynamos also flies under the sweltering sun.
Like many other African countries, the English football craze continues to grip Zimbabweans across the country.
Around Mavhezha’s salon, passers-by proudly adorn replica t-shirts of their favourite English teams.
While others buy original replicas, others buy t-shirts for as low as $7 at the local market where enterprising traders are taking advantage of the growing need.
“We love football here and for us it is a culture. Since we all support Chelsea in this salon, we saw it fit to wear the jerseys to work every day,” he said with a chuckle.
His hair salon has been nicknamed PaChele, loosely translated as Chelsea.
The hairstylists often attract other Chelsea supporters to do their hair in the salon.
“This is an advertising tool. People get fascinated seeing us wearing these t-shirts and most of them end up coming here or even recommend their wives to plait their hair here,” Mavhezha said.
“We take styling of hair as a football competition where someone has to win. Our customers are the ball.”
His colleague Emmanuel Ngarawa, 30, speaks fondly of his support for the English football club.
“Whenever I wear this jersey I get into the mood for work,” he said.
Ngarawa is understandably unhappy when his team loses.
The club’s current poor run of form has made workers here a subject of scorn from rival teams.
“I have never done anything crazy after my team loses but it is not a good feeling. Sometimes I bet on these games so naturally I would expect the team to win. Our start to the season has not been that good but I know we will come back stronger,” Ngarawa added with a smile.
The 30-year-old’s favourite player is French midfielder, Ng’olo Kante.
A walk around bus rank in Highfield, a nearby suburb to the east, one cannot fail to recognise huge pictures of football stars pasted on the board of the vehicles.
Other buses are inscribed with the words Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford. Such is the obsession of Zimbabweans with English football.
22-year-old Isee Zingwe, a hairstylist, says clients who support other teams are welcome at the salon.
“We even have Manchester United supporters coming to get their locks done here, we are open to all. There is a healthy rivalry here, we do not let football ruin relationships,” Zingwe said.
A few yards from where Zingwe is working, his colleague Oscar Kamumvuri, 27, is making haste to finish a client’s hair.
Kamumvuri is a former footballer who turned to styling due to economic hardships.
“I used to play for Dynamos under 18 but due to other circumstances I could not continue. But here we see customers like football, we like taking clients from other hairdressers,” Kamumvuri said.
“It is fun to engage in a rivalry with other teams, we bet on games too.”
Kamumvuri enjoys watching football with his friends at a local bar.
Due to poor incomes, most English football lovers watch matches at local bars as the cost of Pay-Television continues to remain beyond the reach of many.
While others prefer watching football in bars, others Live Stream matches on mobile applications just to stay in touch with their favourite teams.
Watching football in betting outlets has also become a trend for unemployed men looking to make money through gambling.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic decline and with widespread unemployment, many have taken to sports betting.
A walk through central Harare, one cannot fail to see the proliferation of gambling houses.
Online betting websites are also milking the hungry market gripped by English Football Craze.