Thursday, February 14, 2008

Visual Stimulation

Here in Monrovia, and out into the other country, signs and phrases are painted on everything from taxis to walls to carts. This particular sign is right outside my compound, gently reminding me that even here in Monrovia I can have a home. Many are informational such as "Wash Hands after pupu" (which has a picture of a guy 'puing' and "Violence leads to Jail" or "Peace not Guns" portraying a busted AK 47 over Liberia. There are also signs that say "Rape is a Crime" and "Don't beat your Wife" with graphic pictures describing the scene. Most of these informational signs about sanatation, civil obedience, protection from malaria and the running stomach are sponsored by USAID. I wonder how they are precieved to the illiterate in the population, who the signs are targeted to. When they see the picture of the guy 'puing' do they think to wash their hands? or when they see the picture of the guy raping a girl or beating his wife, do they think, I wont do that. These crimes as well as robbery are on the increase. I doubt this is caused because a high percentage of the population is illeterate, but its an ironic situation, and very sad. We hope that with generations of school children learning to read and write that crime will go down, as they climb out of poverty.
The signs on the taxis range from religious statements like "small is much when God in it" to statements of perplex ideas. My favorite one so far is "Man suffer, Woman Enjoy" The taxis are also adorned with huge bumper stickers and the sticker of choice is a huge picture of Maddona with her name written above it. Its on about two-thirds of the taxis I see. The Taxis all have license plates that start off TX - #### so I always think of Texas when I see one. About a quarter of the taxis are broken down and being repaired on the side of the road or in route by pushing by standers. The term personal taxi doesnt exist, and one could share the taxi with up to 7 people, not includeing the driver! With gas and food prices so high, the taxi drivers can affoard to take one person at a time. I should start writting down the phrases on back of taxis or the names of churches.
During the seige of Monrovia in the 90's the poor rebels came into Monrovia and painted their names on houses and other things that they 'claimed' and thought that when they returned they would take ownership as they were promised for fighting. Now most of the walls say, "Don't pepe here" , or "Only dogs pepe here!"

There are many carts and wheelbarrows that roam the streets looking for their next sale. My favorite are woden carts that have a picuture of a head of a cow that has been removed from its body and its looking at you almost with a smile on its face with the caption "Cow Meat" I havnt bought any of this meat, but will soon get a picture of one.


margaret licarione said...

Happy Valentine's Day. I guess people in Liberia are not going to their local Hallmark store to buy valentines. What unique holidays do they have in Liberia?

Wendy said...

I'm wondering if signs of this type would work around home!? Mom

Justus said...

mom, do you mean home as in kerrville or home as in the US?

Margaret: you can google the particular holidays of Liberia, the interesting thing is that most are copies of US holidays, and valentines day was even celebrated, just not in the insane way back in the states.