Signs of Jozi: Prophets, Potions, and…

by | Apr 5, 2013 | Arts and Culture, Hillbrow/Yeoville, Instagram, Johannesburg | 32 comments

…ahem. Penis Enlargement.

IMG_2891 (2)

Penis enlargement sign on Mint Rd., Fordsburg.

I’ve been planning this post for a while. But when it came time to actually write it, I hesitated. I don’t want to offend anyone and I don’t want to invite the wrong kind of web traffic, if you know what I mean.

But this blog is about Joburg culture, and crazy streetside signs are a major part of the culture here. These signs are so prolific, in fact, that I had stopped noticing them until a series of visiting friends and relatives began bringing the signs to my attention recently.

wall of signs

Smattering of signs on Claim Street, Hillbrow.

A few weeks ago a blogging friend of mine, Travelling Tonito, suggested we start a penis enlargement sign challenge on Instagram. (Or maybe I suggested the challenge to him. I can’t remember.) The idea was that Tony would post a penis enlargement sign on Instagram, tag me, then I would post a sign, each time trying to find a more interesting sign than the last. We even created a new Instagram hashtag: #EnlargementSigns.

I don’t think Tony realized what he was getting himself into. Soon I was posting two or three signs for each one of his.


Fountain Rd., Fordsburg. This sign is particularly appropriate because the building behind it is called “Adonis”.

penis enlargement and motorbike

Main Rd., Melville. I’m fond of this shot for several reasons: the rainbow colors of the sign, the guy on the motorcycle (which seems appropriate for some reason), and the angle of the shot, which makes the “penis enlargement” text look abnormally huge.

Soon I began to branch out, shooting signs that advertise for things other than penis enlargement.

the Prophet

Claim St., Hillbrow.

“Prophet” signs are nearly as ubiquitous as penis enlargement signs, especially in low-income areas like Hillbrow. Prophet signs tend to follow a template, always advertising the town from which the prophet originates. Apparently Prophet Siziba wants to make sure we know that he hails from Zim(babwe). And his customers don’t have to pay until after the job is done!!

enemy on mirror

Claim St., Hillbrow.

Prophet Sithole from Chipinge will see your enemy on (in?) the mirror. I don’t have a clue why anyone would want to see their enemy on (or in) a mirror. I really should have called to inquire about this for the sake of the blog. But to be honest, I’m too afraid. I don’t want Prophet Sithole to see me on his mirror.

Bring back love

6th Ave., Melville.

I like the simplicity of some of the signs. “Bring back ur love(r)” is one of the few sign ads that I could personally get behind. If half the number weren’t missing I might be tempted to call it. But what’s the deal with the red paint?

abortion sign

Claim St., Hillbrow.

Abortion signs, unlike the other signs I’ve featured, are in no way amusing or funny. But I have to include the abortion signs because they are so abundant and interesting. Abortion signs also follow a template, with little tear-offs at the bottom for potential customers to take.

abortion sign2

Claim St., Hillbrow. Many of the abortion signs include disturbing details on the services provided.

When my dad came to visit South Africa a few weeks ago he immediately noticed the newspaper headline signs. So I began to photograph those, too.

escort sign

Lothbury Rd., Auckland Park.

All of the major newspapers in South Africa post these signs, usually advertising the most inflammatory news headlines of the day. Dad is a retired newspaperman with a particular affection for sensational news, so these signs were right up his alley. I barely used to look at them before Dad came but now I’m obsessed.

Bad samaritan

Jan Smuts Ave., Dunkeld. The Daily Sun is generally considered to be the trashiest South African rag. All of the Daily Sun headlines end in exclamation points!


Jan Smuts Ave., Dunkeld. Baby Mama Drama: “Papgeld” is a South African slang term for child support.

toilet news

Beyers Naude Dr., Cresta. The sign on top is my fave.

To wrap things up, I’d like to include a news article forwarded to me by my friend Kate, a fellow South African blogger (currently residing in New York) and streetside sign enthusiast. The headline of the article is: “Two arrested for penis potion.” It creates more questions than answers, but a good read nonetheless. (Click link above.)

expert penis enlargement

Lothbury Rd., Auckland Park. I’m not going to provide any commentary on this sign. Just read, observe, and enjoy.

I’m still photographing signs like mad so this could be the beginning of a series. Until next time.


  1. missmanzini

    Lol only in South Africa. Got to love my country. It’s like a bad relationship. Things can be SO amazing and the we EXTRA bad. There is a lot we still need to learn.

    • 2summers

      Indeed. One of the many things that makes this country interesting.

  2. catherine

    this is also something that struck me when we first visited SA! I love seeing all those signs popping up in the most unlikely places at times…

    • 2summers

      Yes, it’s kind of a South African trademark!

  3. Derek Smith

    The one on the left is in Afrikaans and was about the Pretoria Zoo’s mamba that’s gone missing and the other one was on the next lamp-post…….yes only in South Africa

    • 2summers

      Derek: The best of all time!

  4. Debra Kolkka

    Dr Lance is a real star! There must be a lot of chaps around with small penises.

    • 2summers

      Hahaha. My friend Tony’s wife was joking about that. You wouldn’t think that here in South Africa but I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

  5. geraldgarner

    Excellent!!!! This is a fantastic blog piece. Well done!

    2Summers wrote: > 2summers posted: “…ahem. Penis Enlargement. Penis enlargement sign > on Mint Rd., Fordsburg. I’ve been planning this post for a while. But > when it came time to actually write it, I hesitated. I don’t want to > offend anyone and I don’t want to invite the wrong kind of ” >

    • 2summers

      Thanks Gerald! Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Eugenia Parrish

    This was hilarious! I thought signs in USA could be funny, like the huge church billboard “Jesus is watching you” right next to the porn store, but these are much more entertaining. All in the culture, I guess. I love the way you show them without judgement and just let us enjoy. More, more!

    • 2summers

      Typical South African creativity!

  7. amelie88

    I recently wrote a post about the street signs in Madrid, Spain (every street sign in downtown Madrid is made of tiles and there is a miniature painting representing the name of the street in some way), so this post reminded me a lot of that in a way. It’s interesting how openly South Africa advertises such services as abortion and penis enlargements. You see advertisements of this kind in the NYC subway, but it’s usually about plastic surgery. Is there a big market for penis enlargements in SA?

    • 2summers

      Hmm, I don’t personally know anyone in SA who has sought penis enlargement. (Then again I don’t know many man who would freely admit such a thing.) But given the preponderance of signs, I think there must be a market for it! I agree that the openness of the ads is very interesting.

  8. Tenney

    So if you are a married couple and you can only afford one operation, do you go for the penis enlargement or the vaginal tightening? An age old debate, I’m sure. The newspaper headlines make the New York Post look like a church bulletin, except for that one king of all the disgusting headlines ever written “HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR”. If you find one to top that, please post on Instagram immediately.

    • 2summers

      Yeah, I saw this yesterday! Funny.

  9. Mr Bunny Chow

    I love that the prophets are both Zimbabweans, so proud of my home nation and it’s conmen

    • 2summers

      Thanks! I’m glad your’re enjoying the blog.

  10. Jozi Rediscovered

    LOVE this post. The sign of the penis etc is definitely ubiquitous in Jozi. Great that you’re documenting it.

  11. Rebecca

    Ha, I remember seeing the big newspaper headlines on light posts in Cape Town. Great way to sell papers. Fave is the pic with “Adonis” in the background – perfect!

    • 2summers

      Yep. Gotta love the South African sign creativity.

  12. Kathryn McCullough

    Goodness, Heather, I had NOT seen this. Looks like it posted the week Sara and I were in New York getting married, the week before we left for Ecuador. LOVE this post.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • 2summers

      Hahaha, I’m so glad. And I didn’t even get in to the crazy fliers that people pass out at traffic lights. Those are great, too.

  13. you would have to try it for yourself

    Good blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality
    writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!



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