This signboard measures 48 x 23 3/4″ (122 x 60 cm). The establishment that used this sign is a versatile one, doing both men’s and women’s hair. Many people in Africa either do not have a phone of their own or they don’t have enough money to buy credits for their prepaid phones so they use public phones which are privately operated. A call placed this way may not be the cheapest on a per minute basis but is does require the lowest outlay. There are many outlets set up all around town to provide only this service since all they need is a cell phone. This salon, however, provides that service in addition to its main business and included that on its sign.
The name of this business, painted in red in the upper left hand corner is Psalm 27 Communication & Barberin Salon, referring to the psalm in the Bible which starts, “The Lord is my light and salvation”, a very popular phrase and Psalm in Ghana. The word Communication has been shortened on the sign to Comm. and “Barberin” is the colloquial form of the word “barbering”. I find it interesting, linguistically, that Ghanaians often refer to cutting hair as “barbering”. The phrases “One in Town” and “Extra O” are both superlatives describing the business. The expression “Extra O” is short for “Extraordinary”.
Most of the background of the sign is blue; there is a narrow band of yellow along the top to underscore the name of the business. On the left is a bald man talking on a yellow phone handset. He is wearing a green suit with white trim and an American flag tie. He has a full goatee. The name of his hairstyle is “Sakola”, which means that all his hair was cut off. There is a woman with very short hair on the right, wearing a blue suit with white trim, a white necklace and a white hoop earring. There is a title just in front of her face, the name of the hairstyle she is representing, “Ladies Sweat”, where the word “sweat” means pretty as well as being a unisex hairstyle. There is a large red pushbutton phone represented in the center of the painting. I presume that the 3 white stars scattered on the blue background are meant further to draw peoples’ attention to the images represented.
The sign is painted on a thin piece of wood the paint of which has begun to fade a bit as it has spent a lot of time in the sun. There is some wear around the periphery of it but not much. It is in great shape for such a beautiful older, used sign.
This form of African art is contemporary; these signs continue to be made although currently the trend seems to be to more professionally printed signs on paper which is now cheaper than hiring an artist. This, therefore, is one of the last of a dying art.
We are pleased and honored that this sign is being featured in the African Hairdressing and Barbershop Sign show at the SFO Museum at the San Francisco International Airport which runs from February 29 to September 4, 2020. Therefore, it is not available for purchase until October of this year.