his month is Scotland’s Black History Month, a period when Scots can learn more about what is often referred to as Scotland’s hidden history.
Black History Month focuses on people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about and who are absent from our history books and education system.
There’s a whole series of shows, events and talks taking place across the country – full details of the programme, along with a map of Scotland, can be found on the website crer.scot
Meanwhile, in Inverness this week, there’s a chance for audiences to delve into the world of the black barber shop via The Barber Shop Chronicles.
A black barber shop is perhaps not a place Highlanders are terribly familiar with, but they are fascinating because they offer their clients much more than a shave and a haircut.
Maynard Eziashi stars in the award-winning play which visits Eden Court Theatre from October 17-19.
He’s one of the 12-strong, all-black male cast, waiting to welcome guests into this unique world.
“Playwright and performer Inua Ellams got the idea for the play after being shown an article which suggested that barbers could train as therapists because men are very reluctant to seek help about anything,” said Maynard.
“But if they were properly trained, then they could perhaps help.
“He began to research this and much to his astonishment, discovered that barbers provide a huge amount to the community they are in – and often help raise boys to become men.”
Maynard, who has briefly visited Inverness once before while en route to Orkney where he stayed with some close friends, explained more.
“I think most barber shops work on the same principle,” he said.
“Boys are taken there by their parents and they hear conversations going on.
“As they get older they begin to participate in conversations and take a keener interest in what is being said.
“In the UK the barber shop is considered a safe space for black men, it’s somewhere where they aren’t going to be judged.
“Often, as black men, we have to put ourselves through filters which allow us to be seen favourably by society.
“Not laughing too loud, as it could be seen as aggressive, for example.
“In the barber shop they can discuss their favourite football team, politics or women, sisters, mothers, etc, and absent fathers, all while learning at the same time.
“It’s also about belonging to a place; what it means to be an African and how our needs are perceived and treated.
“For a lot of people, who maybe
Maynard Eziashi in Barber Shop Chronicles
Tom Moutchi and Micah-Balfou starring in the award-winning play