l am Zimbabwe too

Date: January 1, 1970
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This advert for the Zimbabwean opposition party MDC features a young, smiling woman looking directly out of the photo. A box in the top right of the ad says ‘100% total depression’ and the caption beneath says, ‘I am Zimbabwe too’. Below that is a block of text describing some of the major problems the country is facing from the perspective of the woman in the photo. This advert is identical in form and structure to ZANU-PFs ‘100% empowerment’ ads, and is used to parody those ads and expose the reality of what that party has been doing to the economy.

The advertisement may be used to:
1)     Show Subtle stereotypes in political advertisements
2)     Show political advertisements where women are the centre of attraction
3)     Show instances where women feature in political advertisements
4)     Show opposition political advertisements that counter the status quo
Training notes
This advertisement is a clever satire by opposition MDC. They use the same type of advert, but instead of the intangible ‘live your dreams through empowerment’ message used by ZANU-PF, this advert brings direct attention to the dire lack of services and collapsing economy in Zimbabwe. The use of a woman’s image to raise these issues points to the party’s understanding that, by and large, women are more severely impacted when the economy of a country flounders.
It also draws on the idea of women as the guardians of the home – in this case extended to mean the nation. The ad states that the woman loves her country and doesn’t want to leave, though many of her friends have. It implies the strength women are expected to have to carry on despite the circumstances. This, combined with the satirical mimicking of the ruling party’s ads, makes the advert quite powerful.
However, it also falls pretty to subtle stereotypes around women – in precisely the same elements that make it powerful. The ideas of women caring for the home and carrying on without complaint are subtly stereotypical notions. The advert also makes reference to the woman’s ‘beautiful smile’, making her out to be the stereotypical ‘smiling through the pain’ African woman.
Interestingly, this adverts strengths are also its weaknesses, when analysed from a gender perspective. However, despite the subtle stereotypes, there is no question that it is a cleverly designed, powerful ad.
Discussion Questions
1)     The advert starts by saying ‘100% total depression’. What is being referred to?
2)     The advertisement was placed by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) but there is no mention of MDC, how can one identify with this advertisement?
3)     Discuss what the messaging on the advertisement mean?
4)     Why do you think MDC chose to counter ZANU-PFs ad with the photo of a woman?
5)     If a picture of a man was used, and the message remained the same, would the advertisement still have the same meaning and impact?
Training Exercises
1)     Ask participants to pair up and ask them to identify which political party placed the advertisement. Ask them to point out features that can be associated with that political party.
2)     Critically analyse the language and image used in the advertisement. Identify statements that show subtle stereotypes and explain. Do these stereotypes detract from the power of the advert?
3)     Bring in both the ZANU-PF and MDC ads. Have participants compare and contrast the ads in terms of style, form, structure and content. Ask participants to design a new ad for a) ZANU-PF, using tangible outcomes of their party – i.e. economic collapse, inappropriate land redistribution, etc. and b) MDC, focusing on other issues pertinent to the campaign. Ask participants to explain their strategy and use of imagery.

Download : MDC IamZim

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