Friday, March 19, 2010


In Kenya, public transport vehicles are often outrageously decorated. A minibus might not have seat cushions, windows, or brakes, but it will frequently be covered in colorful artwork, including a boldly lettered name emblazoned across the front or the back of the car. Sometimes the name makes sense, like “ROAD WARRIOR,” although more often it is completely non sequitur. Inside, it is common to see English and Swahili bumper stickers, many of them religious in nature (“JESUS IS ALIVE” or “THIS VEHICLE IS WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB”). The fanciest vehicles in Nairobi contain a small TV (always blasting music videos) or colored neon lights.

While there are far fewer public transport vehicles in general in Liberia, the majority of the few that I see around town also are externally decorated with names (“BILL 2000”) or – even better – slogans. “DON'T BE CORRUPT” is one that I saw printed across the door of a pickup truck, and “NO WORK NO RESPECT” or variations thereon seem to be popular (which is, as a side note, somewhat bizarre in a country in which over 70% of the population is unemployed).

But my all-time favorite slogan – one that I think perfectly captures travel in Africa – is one that I saw today. The back bumper of the dilapidated, overloaded station wagon simply said (and I quote exactly): “THIANK GOD WE MADE IT.”

1 comment:

  1. "This vehicle is washed in the blood of the lamb" makes me think of some horrible gas station car wash from hell. Sadly, having lived in Texas now for a while, I'd be totally unsurprised if I saw that plastered on the back of some pickup truck here...I'd also not be too surprised if I saw someone trying to build that car wash either...