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The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - YOURWEEKEN­D -

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

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