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Crafty Artist Curves Niche in Zimbabwe Tattoo Business

  • Gibbs Dube

Farai Roderick Madziwa busy at work at The Palour in Harare. (Photo: The Palour)

Farai Roderick Madziwa busy at work at The Palour in Harare. (Photo: The Palour)

Tattooing is an art that has been embraced worldwide mostly by youngsters and frowned upon by some elderly people, who view body inscriptions as a form of protest or direct attack of local and Christian traditions of keeping the body “sacred”.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, a group of museums and research centers administered by the government of the United States, humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years.

“These permanent designs - sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal - have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.

“In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.”

There are no specific studies that have so far been conducted in Zimbabwe where tattooing has been part of life for centuries. The country is currently gripped by a tattoo craze that has seen some youngsters getting tattooed on their hands, cheeks, chests, backs and private parts.

Some of the tattoos resemble local animals like lions, leopards, cats, dogs and several others. There are some people who prefer symbols of their own names, names of lovers or celebrities like David Beckham, Justin Bieber, among thousands of successful people.

There are many choices for clients at The Palour in Harare run by Farai Roderick Madziwa, who gets at least two clients a day that pay about $24 each for basic tattoos. Some fork more for having tattoos all over their bodies.

TeenLife Blog, indicates that a 2013 Pew Research Center study revealed that 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have tattoos. “While most states require teens to be over 18, some states allow minors as young as 14-16 to get a tattoo with parental consent - either written or officially notarized. Often, parents have to also accompany their child to the parlor.”

The blog says the motivation for getting a tattoo varies among teens. It quotes Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, co-author of the book Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential, as saying teens may want to get a tattoo as a statement of their individuality or to commemorate an important event.

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