Friday, 21 November 2008

Liberian License Plates

It’s always a delight to find in every city something that clearly distinguishes it from the next and if there’s one thing you should look out for in Monrovia, it’s the license plates. I don’t have the current figures but I think more than 60% of cars in Monrovia have customized license plates. They are as diverse as the many cars on the streets.
Each is unique in its own way clearly identifying a person better than any ID card or passport possibly could. Each telling us a different story, depicting status, gender, age, earning power, job function, marital status, position, even dates of birth.

I’ve seen all manner of license plates like ‘4 my wife’, ‘husband no2’, ‘4 me’, ‘rush 2’, ‘manager 3’, ‘baby 1’, ‘big boy 5’, ‘Emily 1’ ‘Psalm 23’, to mention but a few.
We couldn’t get to the bottom of the reason for these diverse plates so we decided to play a game to tell the stories behind each customized license plates.
So here are some of our ideas:

4 Me: This plate was on a Volkswagen golf car and it was driven by a young woman. So we figured that she probably worked so hard and suffered a lot to buy the car that she had to stake her claim by making sure everybody knows the car is ‘4’her.

Husband 2: This is self explanatory, he’s a second husband and wants to be identified by that.

Big boy 1: He’s so obese that he couldn’t think of any other thing but his weight when he was getting the plates made. Guess his next car would be ‘gym boy’ for when he starts using the gym.

4 My wife: The 'Oga' probably bought the same car for his girlfriend, so he just wanted to be able to differentiate one from the other.

Psalm 23: I think that’s the only Bible verse this owner really knows or can remember from his childhood.

Bro 419: His brother is probably a ‘419er’, the car was bought from the proceeds and they wanted everybody to rejoice with them.

The funny thing was that the ‘big’ cars didn’t have customised plates, they just had regular plates. I’m thinking of getting my own car soon and I would welcome ‘name’ suggestions for customized plates.
Whenever you are in Monrovia, you can check out the license plates and come up with your own stories.

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