All of these pictures are property of Eric Thibodeau and may not be reprinted without permission.    www.ericthibodeau,com

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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'...


God!-  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             


Family Issues-  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 'woman'.       
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 among
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!