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Click to preview The Vibrant Sign Culture of Ghana photo book

What are you likely to find on the menu at the Don’t Mind Your Wife Chop Bar? Or how about the message on your taxi admonishing you to “Beware Your Best Friend” ― what are you to make of that? And what in the world is being harvested at God’s Finger Farms?

With a visit to the West African nation of Ghana, numerous questions are bound to follow you as reliably as the equatorial sun ― and that guy selling leather belts and TV remotes. Much as cassava and yams are pounded into the gelatinous goo that will become the popular dish fufu, Ghanaians have taken their nearly 80 languages, a centuries-old oral tradition, and their British colonial past and mashed them into a distinctive pidgin that may just be the true national language.

Today, thanks to the legacy of the British, everyday written communication is almost exclusively in English. But the polyglot influences are still very much on display and nowhere more strikingly — and often hilariously — than in the country’s unforgettable signs.

Devised with the trademark Ghanaian sense of humor, the eye-catching signs line virtually every roadside and speed past on almost every taxi, truck, and tro tro (Ghana’s ubiquitous minibuses). Many are funny (Fear Not Haircut), others are dramatic (God Will Change Your Situation Haircut) and some seem not to have given much thought to meaning at all (Apparatus Haircut).

WIP-Ghana

About the Author

Women in Progress
WIP-Ghana Accra, Ghana

Women in Progress is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded by two former Peace Corps volunteers and six Ghanaian seamstresses and batikers. WIP’s mission is to enable Ghanaian small businesswomen to achieve a sustainable economic independence as a means for generating jobs and alleviating poverty at the grassroots level.

WIP launched Global Mamas, its fair trade brand, in 2003. Today, Global Mamas works directly with more than 400 Ghanaian women to produce and export fair trade products to over 300 customers in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Comments (1) Write a comment

charidea

charidea says

cool book. love ghanian signage!

posted at 07:08pm Jun 05 PST

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