Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Chicken dinner
December 3, 2011, 5:53 am


Dear Family and Friends,

Believe it or not, the hot topic of conversation this week was take-away chicken portions. Shock, intrigue and controversy came with an advert for chicken pieces that was aired on DSTV, a South African satellite television broadcaster that is available in many countries in Africa.

The advert came from Nando’s, a South African fast food chain which has a Zimbabwe franchise and outlets in many centres around the country. The advert shows Robert Mugabe standing alone at a Christmas dinner table, holding place name cards of absent guests. To background music of “Those were the days my friend,” and with actors playing the characters, Mugabe is shown having a water pistol fight with Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, whose is using his trademark golden gun. Then on stage he sings with China’s Chairman Mao, and later makes sand angels in the desert with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Final scenes are of Mugabe playing on swings with South Africa’s P W Botha and then standing on top of a tank with Uganda’s Idi Amin, both with their arms outspread in classic Titanic pose. The advert ends with the words “No one should ever eat alone so get a Nando’s six pack meal, for six.”

The advert was definitely a case of forbidden fruit being more desirable as people scrambled to find a satellite TV where they could watch the Nando’s advert. Ironically it’s only because the sole TV channel in Zimbabwe, ZBC, is so biased and full of propaganda, that everyone that can has satellite television. In the blink of an eye the advert was on You Tube enabling even more people to watch it.

Within a couple of days the inevitable happened and a Zanu PF militant group known as Chipangano warned, through ZBC radio, that Nando’s should withdraw the advert or face punitive action. Chipangano called for an apology for what they described as the negative portrayal of Mr Mugabe in the advert.

The blame game and denials rapidly moved into full swing. Nando’s Zimbabwe said they were not informed about the advert or the marketing strategy of Nando’s South Africa. DSTV said they could not “filter out” adverts on the satellite channels that were available to Zimbabwean subscribers. A major shareholder of the company that holds the Nando’s Zimbabwe franchise, who is himself and ex Zanu PF Governor, said the advert was a ‘violation of business ethics” and in disregard of “African values.”

Of course, anyone that hadn’t seen the advert by that stage, made determined efforts to see it and find out what all the fuss was about. Things reached absurd levels midweek when the Short Wave Radio Africa broadcast was jammed just as a news report about the Nando’s advert began. The jamming continued for the next two hours and no one was in any doubt about who was behind the radio’s signal interference.

What had started out as a Christmas advertising campaign for a chicken dinner had turned deadly serious. On Thursday Nando’s South Africa announced they were removing the advert because of the : “volatile climate and believe that no TV commercial is worth risking the safety of Nando’s staff and customers.”


And the world thinks that everything is OK in Zimbabwe? Happy chicken dinner. Thanks for reading, until next time, love cathy

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