Celebrity photographer and one of the most respected photo journalists in Nigeria Sunmi Smart-Cole is reputed to be an encyclopedia of the social and entertainment circuit of Nigeria especially Lagos, his base. It is widely believed that any socialite Sunmi does not know is not worth knowing. That was how the powerful 75rs old retired journalist held the society in his palms during his hay days.
Sunmi, who has wined and dined with royals , presidents and captains of industries recently went down memory lane, sharing tales about his life as a barber who specialized in making people beautiful when he was younger. The interesting part of it was that he did not go for any training to become a barber; he taught himself how to barb.
Interestingly, he was believed to be the one who introduced Kennedy style haircut in Lagos. He was the only one who could do it at that time according to friends and his barber’s shop, called Sunmi’s Place, somewhere along Alagomeji area of Yaba, Lagos, became a rendezvous for hippy youths.
As he celebrated his birthday recently, he took to his Facbook page to reveal his younger life as a barber. This he simply painted below…
“My barber shop … located at number 1 McEwen Street off Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos -1968.
I borrowed £40 (forty pounds) sterling (to pay rent – £12.10s, to buy equipment and furniture) from the late Chief ADETUNJI SOYODE, paternal grandfather of Mrs.DOLAPO OSINBAJO, wife of Vice- President, Professor ‘YEMI OSINBAJO.
The shop was also a Cultural centre. People came to read foreign newspapers and magazines (during the Civil war, luxury items like foreign publications, butter extra were banned. The ban was lifted at the end of the war, in 1970.
They also came to listen to Jazz, Soul and Classical music.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, they came to find out where the parties for “hep-cats” and the “in-crowd” will be held.
I started operating the shop 1967 and I shut it down, in September 1972, when I migrated to the United States of America (to live “permanently” (I returned home after ten years).
I lived in Mountain View, California, where I worked with VIDAR Corporation as a Technical Illustrator and Architectural Drafter … I began my study of photography (part-time) in 1976, at Foothill College, Los Alto, California.
I staged my first photography exhibition at Stanford University’s Coffee House, (Tressidar Union), in 1978. I was invited to exhibit at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, in December 1978, by the Executive Director of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Mr. Frank Aig-Imokhuede (father of banker Aigboje Aig-Imoukuede.
I have since exhibited in five continents; I am a multiple award-winning photographer”.