Ted's Fun & Games The Kilimanjaro Summit Sign
That Nobody Talks About

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is quite difficult; so those who make it to the top understandably like to have memorable pictorial records of their achievements.  The standard photo-op is a group shot in front of the iconic summit signpost.  This was the original structure:

The Original Sign, pre-2010

Although at least one blogger maintains that this is the most frequently photographed sign in Africa, that is wildly unlikely to be true by sheer dint of numbers.  This sign, however certainly does seem to be the most beloved and most frequently published one.

Oddly enough, what does not appear to have been mentioned elsewhere is the fact that, by 2010, the bottom-most portion of the sign had gone missing.


In 2012, the poor thing was replaced by a new and "improved" model.

The New Green Sign, 2012
The Green Monster

That offering was not well-received, however.  Although it was made of some sort of plastic material that doubtless was more durable than the old wooden construction, the color choices proved unpopular, the text reportedly was difficult to read in sunlight, and it lacked character.  Also not mentioned elsewhere is the fact that the original message about a volcano remained absent.

So many complaints were registered that the Tasmanian officials capitulated; and in 2014 the so-called New Old-Sign was erected.  It closely resembled the original one, even to the extent of retaining the crooked board in the middle that provided much of the vaunted character.

Here is a summit-shot of hiker-friend Cindy, whom I helped to prepare for the mission, with her son Andy (both on the left):

Cindy at the Summit, 2015
At the New Old-Sign in September, 2015

Now everyone is happy, right?  WRONG!  Look at that sign again:

The New/Old Sign, 2014
The 2014 version is a joke

The word VOLCANOES has been misspelled!  On top of that, two new grammatical errors have been introduced.  The hyphen is missing from FREE-STANDING MOUNTAIN, leaving that phrase nonsensical.  A mountain might be standing, but the political designation 'free' is inapplicable to a piece of dirt and rock.  Also, the apostrophe is missing from WORLD'S LARGEST.  Go figure.

The term FREE-STANDING also was mis-handled on the former green sign; but at least on that one, the apostrophes weren't slanted backwards as on the others.


Apparently without fanfare or other publicity (and possibly to avoid some agency embarrassment), sometime in late 2015 the summit sign was replaced again.  Lo and behold, the three aforementioned errors have been corrected!  Even the three apostrophes are sensibly shaped.  See for yourself:

The Newest Sign, 2014


Perhaps the most amazing fact of all is that no other online article that I could find makes the slightest mention of either the wording errors or the fact of a third replacement of the original signpost.  The one in place now is not the New Old-Sign of 2014, but the Corrected New-Old-Sign of 2015.

And you heard it here first — at Ted's World.

For the record, I have intended no criticism of the Kilimanjaro National Park officials for those mistakes; indeed, they seem ultimately to have tried to do the right thing by finally enlisting the services of a semi-competent English-speaking person.

I say semi-competent, though, because there remain some uncorrected grammatical anomalies.  Admittedly, fixing them would cause some of the original wording to be changed; and although it wouldn't have hurt anything, maybe they didn't want that.

The powers that be are to blame, however, for perpetuating the error in the 1952 survey that estimated a summit elevation of 19,341 feet.  Modern measurements place the mountain's height at 19,318 feet.

Bad English is one thing; but faulty data is quite another.  And you probably heard that here first, as well.

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