African Signs

I get endless pleasure from English signs here, like the one at the lion and rhino park regarding the brown hyaena that reads “Mainly active at knight.” 

My friend, Abdi, went to Mozambique and took a photo of the following sign (I can’t post pictures from this ancient computer onto my blog – but will as soon as I solve the problem):

“THEFT from Chameleon Backpackers hand Guesthouse by our GUESTS has reached epidemic proportions.  In a spate of disappearances we have lost valuable wall hangings, woven baskets, pillows, blankets, towels, cutlery (continuously) and finally the hot water bottle to keep the breakfast eggs warm.

As a result of this we have no option but to increase the proces of our accomodation from 1 August 2006. This distresses us a great deal as we try to maintain our low prices to provide good, clean accommodation at affordable prices.  We want to break this cycle so PLEASE, if you see someone BORROWING something please report it immediately to Reception or Management as the impact affects all our guests.

So next time you wonder why there is no sharp knives in the kitchen, no towel in your room or blanket to keep you warm, it is because someone has decided it was included in the room price.  Let us stamp out theft together to keep ALL our belongings safe.


Jackie, Bossie and team”

Here are a few more:

In a restaurant in
“Open seven days a week and weekends.”

On the grounds of a private school in
South Africa
“No trespassing without permission.”

On a window of a Nigerian shop:
“Why go elsewhere to be cheated when you can come here?”

On a poster in

“Are you an adult who cannot read? If so, we can help.”

In a hotel in
“Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9.00 am and 11.00am

On a river in the Democratic

Republic of
“Take note: When this sign is submerged, the river is impassable.”

In a Zimbabwean restaurant:
“Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.”

A sign seen on a hand dryer in a
public toilet:
“Risk of electric shock – Do not activate with wet hands.”

In a
Botswana jewellery shop
“Ears pierced while you wait.”

On one of the buildings of a
Sierra Leone hospital
“Mental Health Prevention Centre.”

In a maternity ward of a clinic in
“No children allowed!”

In a cemetery in
“Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves.”

In a
“It is forbidden to steal towels, please. If you are not a person to do such a thing, please don’t read this notice.”

A sign posted in an Algerian tourist camping park:
“It is strictly forbidden on our camping site that people of different sex, for instance a man and woman, live together in one tent unless they are married to each other for that purpose.”

In a Namibian nightclub:
“Ladies are not allowed to have children in the bar.”

In a graveyard in Mabvuku, Zimbabwe
‘Ane nharo nga’amuke…


1 Comment

  1. Jodie said,

    April 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    “In a Zimbabwean restaurant: “Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.”

    It could always be a disgruntled (and cunning) employee who’s having a dig at the manager. It’s far more likely to be a translation hiccup but it would be very funny if it was deliberate.

    It does just go to show though, the nuances are important. There’s no reason to suspect that those words wouldn’t do the job, but that particular phrasing just happens to mean “You think we’re bad, get a load of this!” Not that it’s particularly important in this instance, it’s easy enough to see what they actually meant. But if a sign’s of vital importance, then you have to look into professional translation agencies.

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