Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga

last updated Thu, Feb 9, 2023 5:16 PM

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'They look at me as gay' - male hairstylists in Muslim-dominated Minna

By Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
| Updated 17:16 09/02/2023
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The north of Nigeria is a highly conservative Muslim society with tall-standing gender role stereotypes. So it's uncommon to see men doing things believed to be traditionally for women or women picking trades reserved for men.

For example, you don't find men holding a woman's hair and plaiting it for money here. But once in a while, some young people resist this culture of gender role stereotypes to pursue their dreams and be happy, not minding what others might say. 

Nicolas Npraise is one of those young people screwing stereotypes. He is a hairstylist and has been one for the past two years at Tunga Market in the north-central state of Niger.

Npraise also fixes nails, makes natural dreadlocks and smoothens hair at his shop in Tunga Market. He said he finds fulfilment in what he does because it is his passion, plus he makes as much as between N16,000 and N20,000 ($36-$45) daily, more than half the national monthly minimum wage here.

It does not come easy, though. Npraise gets nasty comments from other males regularly. 

"They would make comments about how I am wasting my life away and how I should be doing something more meaningful," he told Prime Progress.

The 28-year-old, who could not go to university after his secondary education due to financial difficulty, said being a male hairstylist in a Muslim-dominated state means "They look at me as a gay who has developed passion for the female profession."

And highly conservative females also gossip about him.

"I'm not always comfortable when they start gossiping, and at a point, I excuse them and return to continue my work when they are done," Npraise said.

But as long as "it [the business] puts food on my table and pays my bills," he does not care what others say, he insisted.

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