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In pictures: The barbers of Freetown

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Photographer Olivia Acland has been documenting the barber shops that line nearly every busy street in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

Most people will tell you that they have a trusted hairdresser who they visit on a regular basis. Geoffrey, a 29-year old tour guide, said: "Appearance is very important in Sierra Leone, people want to make sure their hair looks good."

Barbers also take on the role of counsellors, listening to clients agonise over their love lives or confide in them about family crises. The barber shop provides a safe space for people to sit back and unwind - after all, it's important to feel relaxed as someone takes a knife to your chin or a pair of scissors to your head.

image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionThis customer opts for the "Michael" style, named this way after Michael Jackson. It costs 8,000 leones (£1.40).
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionThe owner of this barber shop, Ronald, decided to have it painted in this way as he "likes American and English people's style".
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionMana has been a barber for 10 years. He says that on average he receives seven to eight customers daily and strives to make at least 10,000 Leones (£1.75) in a day's work. Laughing, he tells me that he knows all the gossip in Freetown.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionArthur had his shop painted like this three years ago, he wanted to make sure that the place was eye-catching.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionJohn visits Arthur's barber shop on a weekly basis to maintain his look.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionArthur always listens to the radio as he works, he says it helps him relax and cut well.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionLucy visits her barber once a fortnight and pays a rather steeper 20,000 (£3.50) for her low cut look.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionDreadlocks are fashionable among some young men and require attention to keep looking good. This barber shop is designed exclusively for those with dreads.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionBarber Kolenzo and his sister relax in the shop waiting for customers.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionMobile hairdressers are common. This man works as both a barber and a soldier in the president's military parade. He cuts the hair of a colleague outside State House.
image copyrightOlivia Acland
image captionThis barber shop beside Freetown's stadium stays open as late as 11pm to catch anyone needing a shave on the way in or out of an event.

All photographs by Olivia Acland

Related Topics

  • Freetown
  • Photography
  • Sierra Leone