‘Akon’ is a Congolese barber who styles hair in a converted shipping container in the city of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He shares the salon with four other Congolese barbers, these congolese are well known for their “style” and are in demand for their hair cutting skills in South Africa. A hair cut at Akon’s Hair Salon will cost you about 3 to 5 Dollars, there is a steady flow of customers at the salon. A local basket ball star who only gets his hair cut by ‘Akon’ says “these guys are the best, they just have a style that our local barbers don’t have”.

There are many Congolese working in South Africa as hair stylists, all of them have their own horror stories to tell. South Africa has a reputation for xenophobia , or the fear of foreigners. There have been many incidents where South Africans have burnt and killed people just because they talk in foreign languages.

‘Akon’ (not his real name), is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Akon says; “my mother was killed by Joseph Kibila’s men, she opened the front door of her home and they put 3 bullets in her chest… my mother was a supporter of Jean Pierre Bemba” who is a Congolese opposition political leader.

‘Akon’ now lives in South Africa with his wife and children, ‘Akon’ wants only to improve the life of his two children, thinking about his mother he says “I can do anything but kill someone…”


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