What does it mean to be a man? Surely, it’s not one thing. It’s a series of little moments that add up. Man Like is a weekly Zikoko series documenting these moments to see how it adds up. It’s a series for men by men, talking about men’s issues. We try to understand what it means to “be a man” from the perspective of the subject of the week.
This week’s Man Like is Ifeoluwa Adeyoonu, a 28-year-old barber. He talks about his difficult relationship with his father, how he faced resistance when he wanted to start his salon, and how his business gets in the way of his romantic life.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I decided to open a barbing salon after I graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University. I graduated with a third class, so I didn’t have many job prospects available to me.
At an interview I managed to secure, the recruiter told me, “Look, you’re obviously very bright and promising, but we can’t possibly hire someone with a third class.” That experience broke me. I was depressed for a long time, and I decided not to look for white-collar jobs anymore.
What did you do next?
After a few months from that moment, my mum asked me what my plan was. I decided I wanted to open a barbing salon. I had learned how to give haircuts when I was younger, so it felt natural to pick it up. I brushed up my skills.
My mum supported my decision, but my dad was somewhat reluctant. I think it’s because he resented me.
Wow. How so?
My dad impregnated my mum during his NYSC service year, and he was forced to marry her. I don’t think that was how he saw his life going. I was born shortly after, and he named me “Ifeoluwa” — the will of God. I believe he saw me as the person who ruined his plans. Though I was a “model” child — got good grades in school and pretty much kept to myself — he’d favour my younger siblings and treat me like an afterthought.
He also wanted me to become a lawyer. When I got admitted into OAU, I was assigned to study English instead. To him, I had fallen off the pedestal he put me on, and he was sure to let me know. He’d always tell me how I’m a disappointment to him. Graduating with a poor grade was the final straw. He practically lost interest in me.
When I told him I wanted to start up a barbing salon, he did not like the idea at all. Eventually, my mum convinced him to help me look for a place to set up my salon. He found me a place on the opposite end of Ibadan from where we lived, in an area I had never even been to, perhaps to discourage me from following through with my plans. He wanted me to go back to school to study law. He still talks about it when he calls me.
Did you accept the shop?
Yes. I was spending more money than I was making, but I accepted the challenge because I wanted to prove to him that I was not a failure. Eventually, my parents raised some money that allowed me to get an apartment close to my salon. That’s when I realised I had become a man.
Do you get along with your dad?
He once chased me around the house with a cutlass after I stood up to him to protect my mum. That’s the kind of relationship we had.
We’re distant, but since I moved out, he tries to stay in touch. He came to visit a few weeks ago to show me the new car he just bought. He even let me take it for a spin. Although he was against my career choice at first, I think he’s relieved that I’m a burden off his neck.
Do you enjoy what you do?
Absolutely. My salon is thriving. I wasn’t hoping for much when I started. I don’t think I’m such a great person, but I receive so much goodwill. When I announced the opening of my salon on Twitter, I got so many clients from all over Ibadan booking appointments. People in my neighbourhood always insist on having their hair cut by me. Once, I took the morning off to see a friend who had an emergency. I returned later that day to a lot of complaints about my absence. I can’t take a single day off my business. It’s why I don’t have a serious romantic relationship.
What’s your romantic life like?
Because of my business, I can’t go out on a lot of dates. Also, I mostly meet women online who are in other states and my business won’t allow me to travel to see them. I can’t leave my business because it’s growing. Running a salon is very tricky. If I close for a week, my clients might be left stranded and turn to a competing barber. Anything could happen to my shop before I return.
Any plans for romance in your future??
Yes. When I employ apprentices, I’ll be able to leave my store to go see my women. I don’t think that’s going to happen for another three years.
It’s not all bad. I have occasional flings, but I don’t have the time for a proper romantic relationship.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a man?
It’s the uncertainty of the future.
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