The ANC and FNB Can Learn From This

man-with-fat-bellyLike Julius Caesar once said, Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your ears. Except he never said that (Mark Anthony said it. In the opening line of the play Julius Caesar. By William Shakespeare. Here’s the proof) and I want to say FNB! ANC! Everyone! Fucking Listen To ME!

Look at the title of the blog. It states two things. Firstly, that I post ramblings which might be a little mad, and that I am a fat man… Yes, I am fat. And I am OK with that.

Some people have an issue with it. But its exactly that: THEIR issue. Meaning that I don’t have to worry what their issues are. They do. So if someone comes to me and says “WOW! You are one seriously fat dude”, I’ll probably respond with “thanks!” Because although I do gym, and try to eat healthy (there is a history of heart disease in my family, so I need to be careful) my rotundness is not an issue which inhibits me in any way. I am well adjusted, and have a fairly thick skin. I’m not easily offended. Sure, I’d love to have a prefect beach body, but I don’t and that’s OK with me.

So, FNB comes out with their new You Can Help ad campaign, which very effectively uses a speech given by a young black girl in a school uniform on the injustices of South Africa, and how today is the day that we put into action the great changes that we as South Africans (especially the Born-frees) are capable of making. Sure the girl looks like she is being made to say the speech at gunpoint, and that she may burst into tears at any given moment, but the message was a good one. Check it out here, if you haven’t seen it yet. This advert was displayed on all channels and online at the exact same time, which is pretty cool! The campaign aims to take the information gleaned from the HDI Youth Marketeers Research Report, which highlights what most young people in South Africa feel about the country they live in, and use this to drive the change we want to see in South Africa. Bizcommunity summed up the research report well: In assembling these views and opinions, over 1300 learners and students (ages 10 to 22) from around the country and from all walks of life participated. We learnt that today’s youth are losing their innocence, not to apartheid, but to the many social ills and tragedies that came after it. One child said, “If I was President for a day, I would make South Africa safe for children, women and teens who are abused.” Another 10-year-old boy added the following, “I get scared when people are killing each other.” (click here for the full article) 

More than that though, the Research Report shows how overwhelmingly positive the South African youth is about what they can do to help South Africa in the future. It is astounding. I urge you to download the full report from FNB (here), read it and see if you can avoid that prickly feeling as your heart bursts with pride, and your eyeballs begin to float. It really hits a chord, and its amazing to see the clarity with which the youth, as young as 10, see South Africa.

And then the ANC heard FNB calling them fat, and they were offended. They cried out and tore their clothes from their bodies. JZ wept.

The advert floated the idea that the youth highlighted, that greed, corruption and petty politics are stumbling blocks for South Africa, but never once named anyone, didn’t point any fingers, noses, elbows or any other pointy bits at anyone. The advert delivers a GOOD, strong message. And all the ANC heard was “This isn’t an advert – it’s a political statement. An attack on the president, his ministers and government as a whole” (according to Keith Khoza talking to M&G, here).

For Fuck Sakes… The last time I heard, the ANC was proud that they had ushered in an era of democracy, built on the freedom charter, and governed by a free and fair constitution. That constitution is the basis of the laws that govern not only South Africa as a whole, but the ANC too. Part of that is the right to freedom of speech. If I come and ask you a question like “Do you like Jacob Zuma?” you are free to respond exactly as you feel. It is your right to speak your mind. If I ask 1000 people whether they think the ANC is good at their job, and most of the respondents say “nah, they are pretty kak…” then that means that the common feeling is that the ANC is pretty kak at their job.. Simple really.

This isn’t the worst part though. The worst part is that FNB has pulled the advert off air. This is like the moment when in a fantasy tale, the hero receives the call to action, he sees something or hears something, that makes him change his mind and he decides to go and rescue the damsel in distress. And then he checks his diary and sees that he has a dentist appointment, and he knows how important dental hygiene is, so he gives up on his quest to win the heart of the princess, and everyone doesn’t live happily ever after. FNB has decided to go to the dentist instead of stand ad fight. If I had Michael Jordaan’s number, this is what I would do:

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The point is that FNB had taken a poignant fact, something visceral, something that actual people, not witty copy writers, had said, and they put it out there. They pulled down their pants and showed they have a very big Spear. And when the ANC said “that’s raciiiiiiist!” they crumbled.

That’s like someone saying check out that fat dude, and me walking over and punching the person in the face, even though he was talking about the REALLY fat dude behind me. I don’t know which fat person they are talking about, I assume its me because I’m fat and I take offence. I guess the ANC thinks they are fat too.

For me, this was quite possibly the greatest message to come out of the report, from a 10 year old! “In the future I want to live in South Africa… I know South Africa is full of crime, but if I didn’t live here I don’t know who I would be.” Maybe the ANC needs to listen to that message, and go on diet. And maybe FNB should stick to their guns, and stand there with the tape measure and the scale, and ask EVERYONE involved to step up and see how fat they really are…

UPDATE: As I was about to click the Publish button, I heard on the radio that FNB says the advert hasn’t been shit-canned! YAY for FNB! VIVA Freedom of Speech! VIVA! I decided to publish the article as is, because maybe my message to Michael Jordaan from FNB was the reason they decided to carry on Everyman’s struggle against the oppression of a fat government!

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