Kenya: sign-spotting

[photos at left: famous people matatus]

You encounter some wild names when you travel – in part because of cultural differences, in part because of writing in English as a second or third language. Asia has some great sign-spotting, but Kenya can definitely join in the competition. Check it out…


My personal favorite…

-“Retired Slaves”

Some people name their babies after famous people, others name their matatus…

-“Barack Obama”

-“Obama Senator” variation

-“Che Guevara”


Would you get into a matatu named…

-“Nuclear Bomb”

-“Totally Crazy”

-“Lord Help Us”

-“The Struggler”

-“Out of Control” …?

tuk tuks

-“The Gunner Team,” watch out for the nerdiest, cut-throat tuk tuk in town!

boda bodas

-most political: “abortion is a crime”

-most philosophical: “what is?”

-most SF: “i am ganja head”


-“Do the Right Thing: Be Abstinent.” on a clearly pregnant lady

-Grateful Dead tie-dye t-shirt on a dude obviously trying to look cool, bobbing his head to Kenyan rap.

-“Your boyfriend thinks I’m SEXY” hot pink lettering on a black t-shirt, worn by an elderly Kenyan woman.


-“Dolphin Butchery.” i didn’t know they had dolphins in Kenya!

-“Virgin Counter” what do they do to virgins there…?

-“Artist.” i wish i could open up a shop and put up a sign that says “artist” and then wait to see who would come in and what they would ask for…


-“New Miyako Hotel” in Eldoret, Kenya. It’s the name of the fancy Japanese hotel in San Francisco and other big cities. Except this one is clearly not fancy … and not Japanese.

other interesting sightings / a very global experience

-camels on the highway to Eldoret! i’d expect giraffes here, but camels…?

-being asked if i’m from India

-advertisements for karate classes all over Kisumu

-sitting in a defunct Japanese video game shaped like a space rocket while eating a Kenyan banana and canned OJ from Singapore while listening to Britney Spears blasting out of a nearby hair salon as two Swahili women in long burqas stare at me from a bench.