Warwick Life #1: The Street Barber
If you live in Glenwood and you don’t visit the Markets of Warwick regularly you’re not living your best Durban life. Period. From a haircut, to fruit and veg, and great food, there’s nothing you can’t buy there and at the cheapest prices in town. Around a million people pass through the area each day, shouldn’t you too? Shed your suburban fear and become an urban explorer.
This is the first in a weekly series of Warwick profiles; chronicling the best spots, services, and stories in the area. Check back each week to learn about a different way to save time and money through a new relationship with Durban’s busy and vibrant transport hub.
This week’s post explores the world of the street barber, a familiar site within Warwick, and an incredibly convenient spot for a quick cut or shave. Their facilities may be limited, but their tents are easy to spot and they’re always happy to have new customers
For example, meet Mambo. He’s had his barber stand on Lancers Road since coming to Durban from the DRC (via Mozambique) in 2008. I’ve been going to Mambo once a week for nearly three years for a shave, and during my last visit he gave me a short interview about his life and business as well as some tips to pass on to first time Warwick-goers.
Marc: When did you move to Durban and why?
Mambo: I moved to Durban in 2008. I am originally from the Congo, but left to work in Mozambique before moving to South Africa.
Marc: Why Durban
Mambo: I have friends and family here, so it was easy to move someplace where I knew people. There is a large network for people from the DRC.
Marc: What languages do you speak?
Mambo: I speak English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, and my home language is Bembe… And also Zulu! Most of my customers are Zulu.
Marc: As a street barber what kinds of problems do you face?
Mambo: The biggest problem is the Metro Police. Sometimes they will come and give us problems. 2011 was really bad, we were constantly getting hassled. It has gotten better since.
Marc: What kind of barber services do you provide?
Mambo: I do all different types of haircuts (with clippers) and I can give a quick shave or beard trim.
Marc: What are your prices?
Mambo: A haircut is 15-20 Rand depending on what you want and a shave is 10-15.
Marc: What are your hours?
Mambo: I’m here from 6am to 6pm everyday. Some days I only get setup by 7am though.
Marc: What days are your busiest?
Mambo: Friday and Saturday are the busiest, especially around the end of the month. Monday to Thursday are quieter and you usually don’t have to wait for a haircut.
Marc: What do you like about the Warwick area?
Mambo: As a barber it’s a good place for me to have my business. It’s a busy place and at all times of the day, so there is usually a steady flow of customers moving around. Being close to the transport makes it easy for my regular customers to find me. I’ve been setting up in this same spot since 2008 and have many regulars who have been coming to me since then.
Marc: Why should people who don’t commute through Warwick visit?
Mambo: Everything is cheaper here than it is elsewhere in Durban. There is a reason so many people do their shopping in Warwick. The same fruit or veg you buy in the market here or on the street will cost a few rand more in town, and even more at the shopping markets in Glenwood. You’re buying the same stuff wherever you shop, it comes from the same warehouses. But down here you get the best prices.
Marc: What advice do you have for people who might want to visit Warwick but don’t know the area?
Mambo: It’s a matter of experiencing it for yourself. Do not let the crime scare you, but be careful as it does exist. Men should pay attention and be cautious with their phones and valuables, while women should avoid carrying handbags. Be very careful crossing the street, as the taxis don’t like to stop at the robots and people often get knocked. Come during the day and explore. Busy areas are good, just pay attention. Come see me for a haircut!
Practical Info: Mambo, and several other street barbers, are located in the Warwick Triangle on Lancers Road between Berea (Dinizulu) and Warwick (Julius Nyerere). If you're walking from Glenwood walk down Umbilo till it ends at Lancers. If you're coming from elsewhere on the Berea you can walk down Berea Road to the robot at the Lancers/Umbilo intersection. If you're driving, Lancers is safe to park on during the day, but mind the taxis.