No need searching for him within the sprawling in style district of Antananarivo, the “Cité 67 ha” (the Town of 67 hectares), however within the elegant district, close to Lake Anosy. It’s there he can stay his eye at the Carlton, the largest lodge within the nation, and it is there that he makes his residing.
Jean-Pierre Bodjoko, SJ
His title is Nihasina Rakotoarimanana. However I’ve nicknamed him “Barber N° 7”, as a result of that’s the selection of his barbershop. His “salon” is a hovel of about 3 sq. meters, squeezed between two different barbershops, each small makeshift kiosks, the place he spends his days looking forward to a buyer. He calls himself “a qualified barber in Antananarivo, Madagascar”. He welcomes me to his store with a grin. I had noticed where from my lodge room, it was once lower than 150 meters from the place reporters of the world press corps masking the Pope’s Apostolic Adventure to Madagascar had been staying. The best way to evaluate residing on this 5-star lodge with the small district subsequent door? A distinction like day and night time, like a moonless, starless, sky. The distinction between those that have the entirety and those that don’t have anything, between wealth and poverty.
On this deficient neighbourhood, youngsters kill time enjoying pool on a home-made billiard desk. Others play playing cards – for cash. Round the corner, girls continue to exist via promoting bananas, sitting at the flooring beside the street. In entrance of Barber N° 7’s store is a “eating place” the place shoppers consume status up on the counter. A plate of meals prices 2,000 ar (ariary, the Malagasy foreign money), about 50 euro cents.
7 is the selection of the jersey worn via footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a world-famous football participant, and lives a ways clear of poverty. However Barber N° 7 is a ways from being a celebrity; his existence is an “industrious” one, as they are saying in lots of African nations. On a daily basis he has to offer for his circle of relatives. His serenity is sudden and his extensive smile reasons you to mirror. This is a smile that turns out to mention: “I am deficient however I’m glad!”. The cost of a haircut is written on an indication in his store: 2,000 ar, nonetheless about 50 euro cents – as though the entirety round right here prices 2,000 ar.
To grasp the place Barber N° 7 works you want to understand how the town of Antananarivo is constructed: between plains, hills and mountains. And the Lake Anosy district – Ampefiloha – the place Barber N° 7’s place of business is situated, does no longer pass not noted. Over time, this group has change into the middle of the town. That is domestic to the rustic’s nice establishments: the Presidency of the Republic, the Jesuit School of Saint Michel, the Statistics Workplace, the Palace of Justice, the Topographic and Registry place of business, in addition to Malagasy Nationwide Radio, Télévision Malagasy – and so forth. The Central Financial institution of Madagascar and the Nationwide Library also are situated within the neighborhood. This district covers 46 hectares and is split into two primary portions: the world with social housing, and the executive and ministerial structures. Ampefiloha is bordered via Ravoahangy Andrianavalona Sanatorium, Manarintsoa Bridge, Ampefiloha Fashionable Prime College and the Carlton Resort. There are primary safety problems in Ampefiloha, particularly at night time. Despite the fact that you’re best 500 metres away, you’re steered to take a taxi and to steer clear of strolling, particularly if you’re a foreigner. “You might be at all times acknowledge a foreigner”, they inform me. Subsequent door to the executive structures and ministries, there’s the working-class district. This group is a maze of deficient housing, and it’s right here we discover the store of Barber N° 7.
Ampefiloha is the other of one of the vital deprived districts, having the very best inhabitants density within the capital. Referred to as “Cité 67 ha”, itis situated within the flat a part of the town. There are a number of neighborhoods within the town of Tana, which is every other title for the Malagasy capital, however you can not consider Antananarivo with out seeing the “Town of 67 hectares”, situated within the north-west. Numerous other folks are living right here and it throbs with existence. The whole thing comes in combination as one. On this district, you’re going to to find Malagasy other folks from each and every province or area, individuals who have left the nation-state to understand an city dream. Lifestyles and poverty combine. Ahead of you input “Cité 67 ha”, somebody will remind you to observe your wallet, pockets, telephone, the entirety. Small crime is commonplace. When in a automobile, you will have to no longer decrease the home windows. They advised me that on this group other folks even had their hair stolen. Thieves, armed with scissors, mingle a number of the passers-by. They pick any person with lengthy hair and assuredly lower it off to make wigs that promote at prime costs. The “Cité 67 ha” is classed as a “pink zone”. Nonetheless, that is the place maximum of its population pass on the lookout for what they want to continue to exist the day, particularly meals… and every so often whatsoever imaginable. The whole thing is bought right here, and anything else may also be discovered. Once more, whatsoever imaginable, even probably the most unsightly. That is the peak of casualness: shops and butcher retail outlets open onto the road, stalls are arrange at the flooring promoting greens, spices, fruit, clothes, footwear and so forth, generally beside the street. Vehicles decelerate, in consequence, inflicting site visitors jams and bottlenecks. Regardless of a degree of poverty that may appear horrifying, there’s existence there. Other people proceed to grin.
Barber N° 7 was once born on 11 July 1975. He’s married and has 3 youngsters: Tojo, 24, Rova, 22, and Murielle, 18. They’re nonetheless learning. Their father labored quite a lot of jobs: he was once a bricklayer sooner than he determined to change into a barber in 1998. He stated he modified activity on account of his hobby for newbie soccer: he preferred to play soccer after paintings, however didn’t have time when he was once a bricklayer. As a barber his activity doesn’t conflict along with his hobby.
“This barbershop activity does not pay a lot, nevertheless it does permit me to continue to exist. I’ve to paintings exhausting, on a daily basis, with out little relaxation,” he tells me. Supporting a circle of relatives is costly: there are college and college charges for his 3 youngsters, and hire of 150,000 ar a month – about €40. He fees 2,000 ar for a haircut and works on a daily basis excluding Sundays. Serving 10 shoppers an afternoon, he can earn round 520,000 ar (about €130) a month, sufficient to pay all his bills, together with the hire. Sadly, he continuously has fewer than 10 shoppers an afternoon, which makes it exhausting for Barber N° 7. Thankfully, he too can depend at the contribution of his spouse, who has a store 50 meters from his barbershop, promoting milk, tea, sugar, nuts, cooking oil, toothbrushes, razor blades…
The longer term? He says it’s bleak. “My long run is unsure as a result of my paintings does no longer give me any ensure for previous age. However I dream giant: I wish to have a large area, for my youngsters, my circle of relatives. Above all, I need financial safety. And it is going to by no means be the barber’s activity that may permit me to understand my desires,” says Nihasina. “I would love to do one thing else”, he says, however does not know what this is. “I nonetheless need to consider it. For instance, I can be a night time watchman once I end my activity as a barber”, he says. The night time watchman’s activity can be even much less rewarding, alternatively, as a result of it could be each and every different day. And our barber does not need to depart his interest of soccer: he nonetheless like to coach when he isn’t on the store, and right through his down time.
He additionally hopes the State will do its responsibility and make sure a greater long run for all Malagasy other folks. As for his youngsters, Nihasina hopes they may be able to entire their research. “I would really like them to review, as a result of this is their long run. I are not looking for them to paintings as exhausting as I do. I need them to are living a greater existence”, he says. However does he manage to pay for to ensure his youngsters research? “Sure, with a large number of sacrifice”, he replies bitterly. After I ask him in regards to the happiest second of his existence, he replies with out hesitation: “It was once once I used my financial savings to shop for my little motorbike”. However even a bike isn’t sufficient for a person.
Essentially the most tough duration within the lifetime of Barber N° 7 was once the political disaster of 2002, instantly after the presidential elections of 16 December 2001, which threw the rustic right into a deep political disaster. The primary legitimate result of the elections had been proclaimed on 25 January 2002 and instantly turned into the item of robust protests. Accusing the ones in energy of big fraud, the principle opposition candidate, Marc Ravalomanana claimed victory from the primary spherical. Presidential candidate, Didier Ratsiraka, refused to make sure the election effects legaly, regardless of a Prime Constitutional Court docket order to that impact. Consequently, an infinite non violent motion of in style protest advanced, necessarily in Antananarivo, which threw the rustic into disaster and provoked severe penalties. Ravalomanana proclaimed himself President on 22 February 2002, putting in his personal executive, however failed to increase his energy over the entire nation. The Governors of the 5 coastal provinces got here out in make stronger of Ratsiraka. Inspired additionally via the legality of the vote, Ratsiraka arranged a blockade of the capital. This incorporated roadblocks, the destruction of bridges, the keep watch over of native media and the status quo, within the provinces, of a local weather of terror against the supporters of Ravalomanana. Regardless of the condemnation of the world neighborhood for movements that hindered the motion of products and other folks, Ravalomanana was once not able to acquire world popularity for his energy. This intended that, for 4 months, administrative and financial actions had been significantly disturbed or even paralyzed.
Barber N° 7 was once deeply suffering from this disaster: “I got here out even poorer. At the moment, I controlled to earn 1,000 ar (about 25 euro cents) an afternoon. And the 2002 disaster continues to be my worst nightmare”, says Nihasina.
Residing in a local of tall structures and rich other folks, whilst he and his circle of relatives are living in poverty, isn’t simple for Barber N° 7 to know. However he assists in keeping going, even whilst asking questions on those obtrusive and shameful inequalities. “I will be able to’t provide an explanation for this case. There appear to be two roads, very a ways from every different: one for people who find themselves a hit in existence and are living smartly, the opposite for other folks residing in poverty. This is a gadget that has been arrange and that works. There may be a large number of corruption in our nation, and it’s deeply rooted. It’s not that i am on this state of affairs as a result of I’ve been lazy or haven’t labored exhausting. Nonetheless, I settle for my existence as it’s. With a grin.