A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Windshield Wisdom: Ghana
By Daarel Burnette II

ACCRA, Ghana--Daniel Boaken was devastated when he came home to find his fiance having sex with his best friend.

"She broke my heart," the taxi cab driver said of the woman.

To remind him of the heartbreak, Boaken last year wrote in white paint on the bumper of his taxi "Suro nipa" — Twi for "fear the woman being."

Boaken is amongst a growing number of taxi and bus drivers here in this bustling metropolis that have personalized their vehicles with messages of hope, encouragement, biblical verses and advice.

"Vanity," reads one. "Old School," reads another. "Atmuda" — Twi for judgment day reads another.

Photos by Richard VanderfordThe messages — mostly religious — line the back of windows or stretch across passenger doors. Most are written with yellow stickers while others are intricately painted on. Taxis also have glowing pictures of Jesus on the back of their cars or Ghanaian flags hanging on dashboards.

Taking a cab or mini-vans — also known as trotro's — is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get around this city of three million people.

Most drivers said that putting messages on their cars were a way of personalizing the vehicles they spend the majority of their day in.

"People know that this is my car when they see it on the street," said taxi cab driver Richard Asanti. For lettering, drivers pay about $2 to have the letters traced and placed on the window.

Frank Appiah said that he chose to have the phrase "I love it" placed on the back of his trotro because despite the van's smooth looking exterior — the insides are rusting and the interior has been ripped out.

Appiah bought the beat-up van with hopes of one day being able to spruce it up. In the meantime, he makes about five trips across the city a day carrying up to 19 passengers each way. The vehicle has yet to break down.

"I want everyone to know it's okay when you drive in my vehicle," he said. "I still love it."

Photo by Richard Vanderford