Ugandan signage continues to amaze and entertain me as I travel about the country. The variety of enterprise is inspiring as the small merchants strive to raise the visibility of their tiny one room shops to the attention of the potential customer. The unique grasp of English – half British and half American and a lot of TV – often produces effects of language that leave me either wondering or giggling.

I found this one in Jinja just this week as Alfred stood nearby dickering with an IMG_0380smelectronics repairman. It hangs across the sidewalk and advertises the services of a saloon (hair salon). One of the services apparently is head massages, but here is how it is marketed: Head Massage for the Groom. I’m thinking these folks have cornered the market on all those poor grooms following around after their fiances, spending money left and right in preparation for the big day – just what the poor guy needs, a head massage. There’s major social commentary here.

Up near the mountains near the Kenyan border I saw this sign next to a dirt road that wound back into the trees: Disaster Risk Reduction Club. I thought perhaps it was a dance club of some sort because that’s a little how I feel when I take dance classes with my wife and both my left feet. It turns out that there are seasonal landslides in the mountain communities, and this is a volunteer rescue group who train to work in such disasters. Now it makes sense.

This sign was on a shop front and neither Alfred nor I had any idea what they sell – Hyper Social Power Pocket. We saw this on the sign for a nursery school – Jumbo Kids. I’m not sure they even got close on that one. Or this one that also advertises the opposite of what they probably want to advertise: Lady Luck Driving School. “Okay, here’s your certificate. Good luck out there….” Actually, this is probably just reflecting the truth about driving a car in Uganda. And this one on a school: Scared Hats Secondary School. Maybe they should have done their homework better on this one. Imagine a graduation certificate with that on the banner! I’m thinking maybe…”Sacred Hearts…?” If so, they need to fire their sign painter, or educate him.

I love this sign from a store that sells small household goods. Mind you, this is the name of the store in big bold letters: Everything Else Can Wait. They have a lot of confidence in their products. I was impressed by the confidence of this sign also: Fantastic Barber and Beauty Collection. However, the name over this clinic kind of intimidated me: Nutrition Sanitarium. I hear my Mother saying, “You need to quit eating so much fast food, or else…!” This sign on a bar is certainly more positive and encouraging: The Press the Button and Get a Favor Bar. Well, all right, I’m in! Or this competitior: The Happy Hour Joint for Selfless Service. You sold me! I’m in again!

Understatement can be good marketing too – this on a discount shop: The Miniprice Shop. And this on a hotel: The Wimpy Hotel. I don’t think that one works except as a movie title. And this agricultural sign way out in the sticks along the road: The Improved Pig Subproject. Again, great movie title! Bionic pigs? I wonder what the main project was.

I guess I always have a favorite. Every time I go to Buvuma Island, I pass this school on the way to the ferry: The Lourdes Meade Secondary School. It’s apparently a well-known school, with an interesting and not necessarily all-positive history if the stories are to be believed. I am asked repeatedly by Ugandans if I am related, and I reply, probably not, and please, don’t call me Lord Meade.