The old adage says, “An honest fundi is hard to find; the only honest fundi is a kinyozi, aka barber”.
This saying most probably considers barbers to be reliable and honest because they can not shave the head halfway and then ask the shavee *pun intended* to leave and come tomorrow for a shaving of the second half of the head.
A second reason why barbers probably pass the honesty test is because clients can not leave their heads with them;
because if they did, they would most probably find the heads not shaven and would have to walk around headless for as long as the head was with the barber.
This sets barbers apart as the only craftspeople, or fundis, who meet their end of the bargain, which is completing the job within the agreed time.
Before I proceed, I must start by confessing that I am told that there are thousands of great fundis out there who meet the deadlines that they themselves have given, but my paths and theirs have not crossed, yet.
My mind clearly knows that tingly little feeling that it gets when my tailor, mechanic, furniture maker, watch repairer, electronic repairer, carpenter, mason, cobbler, and other fundis say “Come tomorrow! That is very light work.”
My mind is even tempted to paraphrase Proverbs 31:10 to read, “He who finds an honest fundi finds a good thing”.
The text applies to all of them fundis, but my mind will concentrate on tailors; reason being that tailors, like all of them, are a special breed of the human race, who are blessed with the way they smoothly sew excuses. When receiving clothes for repair, the beautiful accent that coats the words that roll out of their tongues is unbelievable.
One needs grace to deal with them. They will swear by their ancestors saying, “I finish the job in six hours only. I never tell my customer to come tomorrow.”
You leave them doing repairs on your garment but by the time you’re back to collect it, you find it’s been unattended to since the moment you left.
And then eventually, even when the garment needed only a minor alteration like a slim-fit, they say: “Yes I know, you gave me these clothes five months ago but I will finish them today”.
When it is finally ready and one gets the garment back, blood, sweat and tears have left the body dehydrated.
Wait until one gets home to find it has a patch, a kiraka, because there was a mishap with the iron box and the fundi decided to patch it up!
A tailor can teach patience and lead one on a journey of self-discovery about just how much patience and tolerance one can handle before contemplating giving it all up, and deciding to cool up after remembering that jail time is just not worth it.
But when all is said and done, I am consoled by the fact that there is that one fundi that I can trust, the barber.
As regards my personal tailer who I fondly call “Jakababa” and who calls me back, ‘mulamwa Jose, Jamba ya kîrîndî’,
I must admit that the only reason why I have stuck with him is his attention to detail. He is also very articulate. And he is blessed with words. Every time we meet, instead of stitching, he leaves me in stitches; which buys him more time to continue with the torture.
I strongly suspect that when he eventually makes it to heaven’s gate, St. Peter will tell him openly that the Lord’s house is not ready for him, until he repents and stops torturing his customers, whether real or imagined.