Friday, February 23, 2007

Notes From The City: 23 February 2007

This is the first in a series of "Notes From The City" posts that I intend to make to capture the unique language and advertising culture that emanates every day from the streets of the city.

All Cape Town's newspapers and broadsheet tabloids advertise their most shocking, or likely to be most talked about, stories every day by printing attention-grabbing headline posters and attaching them to street poles in the city and outlying suburbs to entice you to buy a copy from your nearest paper salesman (they are usually to be found at most busy intersections, or you can buy your paper from any supermarket or café). As a journalist I am fascinated by the often inflammatory language and witty wordplay, and every morning I look forward to seeing what posters the day has brought.

The following is from today's Son. "Ontwyk" means "dodges", and the rest you can understand even if you can't speak Afrikaans. There was a carbon-copy English version of the poster, as well, for the English edition of the tabloid, the Son but I wasn't able to photograph it.

Son headline poster

Above: Son headline poster for 23 February 2007.

If you walk around the city - especially along the main road that runs through the centre of town, Adderley Street - you will see people on almost every street corner reluctantly handing out flyers, advertising often rather suspect businesses and services, to disinterested passersby.

It is - I have to admit - a guilty pleasure of mine to collect these flyers and see what shocking new revelations are in store. Today was a particularly noteworthy (if you'll excuse the pun) day as month after month the outlandish claims have become more graphic and I received quite a few of them all in the space of a few minutes.

Many of these ads demonstrate the peculiar collision of first- and third-world practices in the city, with the first few advertising ridiculous cures from traditional "healers" who are miraculously able to treat a variety of problems - physical, mental, and spiritual - that modern medicine has yet to solve, and which take advantage of the more desperate people in the city, many of whom are refugees who have fled conflict areas in the rest of Africa, and promise them false hope.

Mukuru Associates

Above: Mukuru Associates pamphlet.

Natural Complementary Medicines in association with Dr Abu

Above: Natural Complementary Medicines in association with Dr. Abu pamphlet (front).

Natural Complementary Medicines in association with Dr Abu

Above: Natural Complementary Medicines in association with Dr. Abu pamphlet (back). Most of the text is in Xhosa.

Dr Sam

Above: Pamphlet for Dr .Sam [sic], a traditional healer, astrologer, fortune teller from W.Africa.

Marven Finance

Above: Marven Finance pamphlet.

Harold Hollander

Above: Harold Hollander pamphlet.

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