The situation in Zimbabwe would not allow Langelihe Mzondiwa, a 33-year-old hairdresser, to sit at home idling.
Life was getting tougher by the day.
After completing his O-level, “Langa”, as he is commonly known, decided to lend a helping hand in his aunt’s hair salon. That’s when he broke into hair braiding.
Upon gaining some experience, and acting on motivation from his aunt who told him nothing was impossible in life, he started actively feeding his passion for hairdressing, brushing aside the fact that it’s commonly a female dominated industry. It was at this point he decided to take it up as a lifetime pursuit.
After completing his studies, Langa came to Botswana to look for better prospects in 2007.
“Business was a bit low when I first came here because it wasn’t easy to get a job. I then decided to go mobile, this is whereby I do home visits to my clients’ homes and plait them in the comfort of their homes,” he recalls. “But fate was on my side, I finally got a job in a salon.”
Inevitable, he says, every client thought his duties were to cut people’s hair and do “other manly duties” performed in a salon, “but I proved to everyone that I was a jack of all trades and business came up pretty well”.
Among the challenges he faced ever since he joined the industry, Langa names financial challenges as one, especially since he is a family man, expected to bring food to the table. Also, he says he faced some resistance from female hairdressers unhappy with him taking their customers.
“My clients, especially females, keep increasing every day; they get to know about me from others and all this is because I’m very good with plaiting, some of my clients include Miss Botswana 2008, Itseng Kgomotso, Neoyame Setsile Shirima and Kekhumo Phuthologo from Botswana Television,” he says.
Botswana Television reporter, Kekhumo Phuthologo, commented that Langa is good, creative, knows a lot of hairstyles and quick when he does hair compared to female hairdressers who are sometimes slow.
Langa added that: “Working in a salon is better than doing home visits because I can make around P1100 in a week and P3000/P4000 in a month, which is not bad.”
A smile flashes across Langa’s face every time he sees a client overwhelmed with joy after a particularly fine hair job. He says its hard work and takes a lot to make a customer look beautiful.
“As a hairdresser, you need to be patient when doing a client’s hair. People are not the same, everybody is an individual, and a client may feel a certain style does not suit them and decide to change just after you have completed it,” he says.
Currently, Langa works at Lady Lindy salon in Phase 4, but has plans of opening up a hair salon and a plaiting school of his own in future “because there are only hairdressing schools at present”.
“There has never been a braiding theory. People just create their own names for plaits. For instance ‘se 3-3 and carrot’. This is not professional. There should also be a textbook for braiding so that hairdressers put into practice the theory they have been taught.”
As a piece of advice, Langa states that people should not abandon their God-given talents, but rather make use of them because one may never know what the rewards will be.
“It’s an eye-opening challenge to all other young people out there who have talents that are being wasted,” he said.