No matter the business, he used Old English font, fire engine red, white background preferred. There was no need for discussion because everyone knew. You want a sign done, you called Rre Kopang. He’d pull up on his black Humber, paint, thinner, and brushes at the back in an orange milk crate strapped on with two yellow and green bungee cords, trailed by his thin as a rake dog, Tau. The only question-“What size?” You could choose big or small. Discussions over, he got straight to work.
This was how the village of Lephaleng came to look the way it did. A to Z Electronics, Rest in Peace Funeral Home, Stop By Bar, Go Siame Supermarket, the list went on. All had signs out front of the business establishments in Lephaleng had white backgrounds with the intricate, hand drawn, Old English font giving no indication of what was to be found inside the doors of the establishment. When asked about his predilection, Rre Kopang would say, “It’s the writing wa ga Mmamosadinyana.” Mmamosadinyana-the Queen. Rre Kopang was a fan of Mmamosadinyana, a staunch supporter ever since he wore the uniform for her in WWII. For him, every sign was a tribute to Her Majesty.
Beyond his love of the English, little was known about the tall, thin, ageless, white haired sign painter. His only companion, Tau, was close lipped on how they occupied their time when not painting signs. People in the village would shake their heads and mumble, “He’s funny, very funny.”
That funny took on a whole new meaning when Rre Kopang passed away. Mr. Mohammed, the owner of Star Bed and Breakfast, in urgent need of a new sign, waited the whole morning and half of the afternoon before sending Boy, his assistant manager, out in the Hilux to see what was keeping the old man. Boy found Tau in a state, pacing up and down in the tiny compound. He opened the unlocked door to the one roomed house and, though he was for a moment distracted by the many pictures of Mmamosadinyana that filled the unpainted cement walls, Boy soon realised that Rre Kopang, though appearing peacefully asleep on the bed, was decidedly dead.
Since no one knew of any relatives, the neighbour women streamed in to take control of the situation and that was when the trunk was found. A large, beautifully carved, sandalwood trunk packed full of P100 bills, a million Pula solid and clean. A note on top said, “For the care of Tau”. Though the village was not keen on spending a million Pula on a dog, the kgosi insisted that Rre Kopang’s wishes be abided by. And so, the dog to the funny, rich man who loved the Queen, ended its days living like royalty.