I met Cliff when I stopped to take photos of the hand-painted sign outside his barber shop in the Gabonese town of Moanda.
The sign was painted in a naive style and displayed the types of haircuts he offered inside.
Cliff spotted me and motioned for me to come inside. He was cutting the hair of one of his clients and chatted with me while he worked.
I complimented Cliff on his command of English and he explained he was originally from Lagos. I asked him why he had moved to a town in the middle of nowhere in Gabon and he said it was to make money.
Moanda was home to one of the biggest manganese mines in the world. Cliff figured that the miners would have money to pay for the high-concept styles he had on offer.
Cliff’s customers chose the style they wanted from a poster titled ‘Great Looks!’ that he’d brought with him from Nigeria.
It featured head shots of famous people modelling fashionable hair-styles, each style give its own name.
Bobby Brown, for example, was the ‘Passionate Look’.
Eddie Murphy was the ‘Playboy Look’.
Saddam Hussein was voted the ‘Revolutionary Look’, while George Bush came in with the ‘Victor’s look’.
There was even a concession to those with thinning hair – an old bald guy with a shiny pate modelling the so-called ‘Innovative Look’.
The customer sitting in the chair had bravely decided to give Cliff carte-blanche.
Cliff picked up his electric razor, began etching patterns and after a matter of moments the guy’s head looked like an Aztec pot.
A quick brush with a comb dipped in ‘Saturday Night’ powder and voila!
One more cool looking miner in Moanda.