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Everything I Know I learned
from African Taxi Bumpers...
A bit of an exaggeration, of course,...but you do get some true pearls of wisdom if you stop and read
some of the slogans painted on automobile bumpers all over West Africa. From Bible Verses to pithy
platitudes, the bumper is an African drivers 5-foot long traveling billboard, used to tell you who he is,
how he feels about life, what God is to him, or as you see below, just to say, 'God Bless My Boss'...
He's got quite the monopoly on bumpers here on the Dark Continent.
Whether it's God, Jesus, or Allah...Christian, Islam, or just
uplifting messages, religious themed bumpers constitute a large majority here. Heck, half this page is given over to them. Like the similarly-
named shops, you never quite know why it is. Is it to let friends, passengers and potential customers know they are an honest man of God?
Is it a way to thank God for their provision? Or is it some sort of 'lucky charm' to ensure success and ward off evil? I suspect if you asked a
hundred car owners, you get a hundred different answers. Theories about these have been advanced, such as 'the more ramshackle a car is,
the more strongly they're apt to thank God' . Funny, but not necessarily true. After all, pretty much every car on the road fits that particular
bill. So, here's my collection of bumpers about God, including the rather un-Christian request 'God Do It, Let My Enemies See It' at top left.
Jehovah Do It Let My Enemies See It God Bless My Boss I'm God's Evidence Just A Gist Of What God's Doing
God Is God All By Himself Tell God Thanks For Daily Bread Just Be Good, God Will Help I Am What God Says I Am
God's Divine Favor All Glory Belongs To God, To God Be The Glory
God made everything beautiful May God Bless V. Man (?) God Bless The Owner Give Your Problem To God
Except by God Don't Worry, God Will Decide My God Has Done Me Well Blessing Come From God
Believe in God Never Parey (?) Trust God My People Thou Art Worthy To Be Praised Jehovah Shalom/Pentecost Fire
God's Children Must Survive God Will Take Care Thank God Only God
What is God?-These drivers say God is Willing, God is Able, God is Great, God is
In Control, God is My Strength...
God's Time Is The Best!-
If there ever was a motto for West Africa, this would have to be it. You
see it as shop names, church, school & business
mottos, on t-shirts, menus, letterheads, and, of course, vehicle bumpers. Heck, there's even an African restaurant in the Bronx with the name. There's
so many cars splashed with this particular idiom tooling around Africa, I could fill an page just with them, but you'll have to make do with these five.
Look Up To God- Not as
popular as 'God's Time Is Best', but popular. Bonus- the owner at right
managed to get both mottos painted on his truck!
When God Says Yes, Who Can Say No?-
Who, indeed? Another popular idiom seen around the region.
Father Forgive My Enemies Father Take Control Thank You Father Father Blessing
Bumpers About Jesus- I've
placed my favorite at top left- "If You Don't Go To Heaven, Don't Blame Jesus."
'Jesus Never Fails' is
also popular, as that name is shared with several taxis, a hardware store, and a cement block warehouse back on the first page...
Don't Go To Heaven, Don't Blame Jesus Jesus Never Fails The Solution Is Jesus We'll Make The Journey In Jesus' Name
Jesus Christ Is God In Jesus Name Christ In Me
The Lord- Some vehicles
sporting 'The Lord' on their bumpers, including the bold claim 'I Am The Lord', bottom left.
I love the truck at top left.
American Says "In God We Trust, I Will Serve The Lord At All Times My Lord Will Never Let Me Fail The Lord Is In Control
So The Lord Is Great To Us."
I Am The Lord Our Lord Is Good The Lord Is My Shaper Go Extra miles for Jesus/
Except The Lord Build
Bible Verses- Some people
just choose a bible verse. I've written each verse out below the picture. At
left is Psalm 119:11. Psalm 119 is
unusually popular in Ghana, where I saw at least two businesses and a half-dozen cars and trucks sporting the same chapter and/or verse.
Psalm 119:11-Thy word Psalm 23- The Lord Is My Proverbs 3:6-In all your Psalm 34:1-I will Praise Psalm 127:1-Unless the
have I hid in mine heart... Shepherd, I Shall Not Want- ways acknowledge Him... the Lord continually... Lord builds the house...
Allahu Akbar- It's not just
the Christians, now...the Muslims are out there, too. Here's a few Allahs, with
bin Laden thrown in for good measure.
General Religious- The picture at bottom left is great. He bought the truck previously owned by an American who loved to fish and had
put a 'Let's Go Fishing' sticker on the back bumper. The new owner, probably a pastor, just scrawled 'For Men' after it, and a slogan is born.
If You Miss Heaven you Cry I Like The Way Humble Yourself Honesty 'Paticence' & 'Prayey'
Fishing For Men (No Catch No Charge) Divine Favor By His Grace Mary Blessing
Africans deeply respect their mothers, and many cars are seen with 'Mother's
Blessing' painted somewhere on it.
Here's a few other family-related idioms on cars. Also shown here is a pickup truck owner who used his vehicle to proclaim 'Child
Better Than Money' on one side, and tells us 'My Son Is The Best' on the other. If the son is lucky, maybe he'll inherit that truck...
God Bless The Woman That Born Me I Am Looking For Mothers Blessing Mother's Blessing
Child Better Than Money My Son Is The Best Good Family Bring Success Girl Child Boy Child Man
Africa- Here's a few bumpers
offering opinions on the state of Africa...and who they think is to blame. I
think they may be right.
Problem Of Africa Is Leadership Life In Africa (Is Not Easy)
Jealousy- Actually, a big
problem here. The 'crab bucket metaphor' is often used to describe life in
Africa. If you put crabs in a bucket,
there'll always be a few who will try to climb to the top, while the others will drag him down and keep him from ascending. Sadly, that
is not too far from the truth. African culture forms strong community ties, much stronger than ours in the west. While there are benefits
to such a culture, such as your 'whole village' helping to raise your child and very little homelessness, the dark side is an aversion to self-
improvement. We had a woman patient who told us of her husband, who decided to improve his lot in life. He announced his plans to
'better himself' to the village, and he was actually poisoned not long after. Outside of the religious platitudes, those dealing with jealousy
are most common. 'Don't Be An Enemy Of My Progress' and it's many variations are the most common theme to be found throughout
the region. 'No Food For Lazy Man', also often used, is a slogan popularized by the late president William Tolbert, assassinated in 1980.
The More You Hate Me, Don't Play With My Living Talk About Me & Forget Yours Don't Be An Enemy Of My Progress
The More God Bless Me
Fear Not The World But People Envy No Man Ask God For Yours That Your Mouth will Talk It Beware Of Sunshine Friends
No Food For Lazy Man (another popular West African Idiom) Why Envy Uncle D? Leh Dem Talk
Be What You Are And Leave Not Yours! Don't Envy Me Ask Yourself
Others As They Are!
On a More Positive Note-
Some quirky words of wisdom, yes, but good advice, all. Sadly, I never did get a
picture of my favorite
bumper, 'Town Trap Is Not For Rat Alone'. I'd always assumed it meant 'you should be careful when coming to the city from a small
village', but a Liberian friend told me it means 'I once laughed at somebody's misfortune, now the same misfortune has befallen me.'
Not sure how that translates into 'Town trap...', but I'll take his word for it. Some good advice here, bad grammar notwithstanding...
Your Delay Is Not Your Denial No Condition Is 'Perminate' Don't Give Up My Son The Downfall Of A Man...
Why Worry...? Think Of Tomorrow Don't Lose Courage In Life Good Never Lost
Things Are Possible One Day You Nice You Nice Nothing Spoil Everything Has Time
Day Break Different Better Days Ahead Such Is Life Ask yourself
I Thought We Were Brothers See Me As Your Brother We Are One Family Black Man And White Man
Take Care Of My Back Just Be There Life Can Change Brotherhood Trans. Don't Work Forever For Any Man
No Money- What are you
missing when you don't have money? According to these guys, you're missing friends, love and
No Money No friend No Money No 'Friden' Poor No Friend No Money No Love No Money No Woman
They're on the Gas Tanks, too- Just in case
you run out of bumpers, I suppose....
Just Some Miscellaneous Advice-
Some of it is good solid wisdom, some of it makes no sense to me. These are
the strangest of the bunch, of course, but how can you not get a laugh out of a bumper that says 'Man Suffer Woman Enjoy'?
What You Don't Know Is Older Than You Opportunity Comes At Once Do It Behind Me Cry Your Own Cry (Forget About Mine)
You Have To Accept The Rule Make Up Your Mind (Tell Me True) Shine Your Eyes Trust Me
Respect The Police Keep Me Clean Feel Free! Drive For Safety
Man Suffer Woman Enjoy Something To Remember No Justice For The Poor Lovers Are Few
So Long I'm Living Hidden From Failure Care Here Bonne Chance (good luck)
No Claws For Dogs Man Suffer The Prophet Peace in Liberia One Man One Cup
Tell Us Who You Are!-
From a Traffic Ambassador to an actual International Legal
Hustler, these guys are letting everyone know just exactly
who they are. Whether you're Best Of The Best or just a simple People Lover, remember- Everybody is Somebody- just like the dump truck says...
Traffic Ambassador Best Of The Best The Engineer People Lover ( & G-Unit, too)
Perfect Manager International Legal Hustler Mission Boys Good Guys Communication Center
Lucky Boy Jungle Lion Everybody Is Somebody
It's Not Just the Cars, Of Course-
Boats get the paintbrush treatment, too. These boats, in the Ghanaian town of
Pram Pram, just east of
Tema, have been decorated with the same designs you find on the shops & taxis. 'No Food For Lazy Man' can be seen on the rudder at right.
Or Even The Boats- It's also
on the wagons, the dollies (written in Twi, a tribal language found in Ghana),
and even the filling stations....
Saving The Best For Last...
Because God's Time Really is Best!