“Them Bulls”

One of the very interesting features of traveling along the road in the Western Province of Kenya are the signs that are painted on store fronts or placed out in front of a commercial area. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a picture of the one sign that made the biggest impression on me. This sign impressed me due to the very practical nature of small businesses in Kenya and due to the clash of my cultural assumptions with what is accepted in Kenya.

We were on the way back from our trip from Mbale when I spotted it, and all told I saw this sign three times as we traveled around the Western Province. In front of a small but busy commercial center a square sign was posted by the road. At the top was the title, which I assumed to be the name of the business; “Them Bulls”. Under the title was a painted image of a hog. Under the hog were the words:

Pork Butchery
Turkeys
Photocopies

You got to hand it to the Kenyans. Here, with one stop shopping you can have your hog slaughtered, pick up a couple of turkeys for dinner and have your photocopying needs met. What a country!

This is just one example of the marvelous signage and the vast numbers of small business that are found all up and down the highways of the area that we were in. Many people had their goods laid out on the ground on top of a blanket or other ground cover. Others had items hanging from trees or from small homemade racks built from branches or roughly hewn lumber. Still others had small stands or even a storefront in a block or brick building. The sights and sounds of local people walking, conversing, trading or sitting in these commercial areas are amazing. The contrast with our downtown area in my hometown is stark. In our town, people generally drive and therefore the foot traffic is practically nil. We mostly buy and sell our goods in stores, and very rarely do we do business in the open air. And sadly, in Newberg, I can’t get my hog slaughtered while I wait for my photcopying to be done at LazerQuick.

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