I am Zimbabwe

Date: January 1, 1970
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This advert pictures a bright and hopeful looking man facing directly out of the photo. In the top left there is a box saying, ‘100% empowerment, total independence’, and below the man is the caption ‘I am Zimbabwe’ with some text about achieving your dreams through empowerment. Although there is no political party mentioned, the background of the advert is green À“ the dominant colour of ZANU-PF.

Training notes
The advertisement is promoting ZANU-PF. The words, ‘I am Zimbabwe’ can be interpreted to that the country’s young men are its strength. The expression on his face and the words on the advert bring out an element of superiority in men.
The language used promotes empowerment and independence. One can argue that the advertisement is saying, I can be anything I want to be if I vote for ZANU-PF. As the party’s main campaign message is around the issue of land, the slogan can also be interpreted to mean that Zimbabwean men will be successful as long as they are given access to the land.
On the other hand, this advert completely ignores the contributions of Zimbabwean women to the economy, as well as women’s empowerment. Using the image of a man to refer to Zimbabwean voters in this case is similar to using terms like ‘mankind’ or ‘Man’ to refer to the human race. Although intended to encompass all people, it effectively excludes women, and women’s distinct issues, from the campaign.
The advertisement may be used to:
1)     Highlight various political advertisements that were used in the run up to the June 27 run off elections in Zimbabwe
2)     Look at the portrayal of men in political advertisements
Discussion Questions
1)     What does the messaging on the advertisement mean?
2)     There is no mention of any political party, how can an ordinary person identify with the advertisement?
3)     Green was used as a background colour for the advertisement, what does the colour symbolise?
4)     The advertisement is marked by the words, 100% empowerment and total independence. What does this mean?
5)     What is the connection between the face on the picture and the words ‘I am Zimbabwe’
Training Exercises
1)     Critically analyse the advertisement? What does it stand for?
2)     Redesign the advertisement and make it gender aware.
3)     How can one improve the advertisement?
4)     Discuss in pairs or groups what the advertisement symbolises. What is the significance of the picture?
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