Trying to better understand the ANC’s and its Youth League stance about their recent ad campaign ’’You can help campaign”.
I first saw the advert during the AFCON Opening ceremony on SABC1, as I patriotic South African that I am I was deeply moved and inspired by the young girl calling for us citizen of this country to be active and help.
In her opening lines she says
Many years ago, in 1976, a group of brave young people stood on the ground where we are gathered tonight. From this very place, they took their first steps towards freedom.
She goes on to say there will be a day when,instead of blaming each other, we'll build each other.
Instead of hurting each other, we'll help each other.The challenges before us, can not be solved by money,or petty politics,protest or violence.All of the great things we've done, we've done together,by helping each other.You see,when you help someone, you lift them up.And when you lift them up, they can help other people too.It's time to remember who we are,to remember the strength inside us,and the great things that we're capable of.
As I was digesting the message I developed a sense of pride about my country, about where it comes from and where it is today. I began to be more hopeful about the future of this country and our government’s NDP plans for 2030. I saw FNB as the first institution to take the initiative of “Active Citizenship” Trevor Manual who is behind the NDP was calling for. I saw them as more than just a bank that was after profits, but simply an institution deeply connected to our country and shared a vision for its future.
However, as a Media student I was forced in a situation where I had to decode the campaign, its research and the adverts it carried out. I was further fuelled to do this by the ANC and its YL. I then wanted to discover for myself what message it was passing to us South Africans.
In trying to understand the ANC stance, one must not look at the advert; watch the behind the scenes footage and read the PDF document provided on the FNB www.youcanhelp.co.za website.
The behind the scenes video starts off by a quote from Phelokazi in Cape Town “People help each other to make a difference in South Africa”. That is true, this country is what it is today because of hand that came together and built it. Soon after that “YOU CAN HELP” text comes on the screen followed by an IEC Logo and painting for the 2011 municipal elections.
Now, what kind of message do you get from this?
In order to make a difference, you can help by voting. This is another undisputed fact that for you to see change and help yourself you need to vote for the government that will work for you so there won’t even be a need for banks to ran “You can help campaigns”.
After those texts FNB’s Chief Marketing officer appears explaining the idea behind the campaign; saying that she believes that “Help is a bridge, that power exists in all of us to extend the hand of help; taking people from a place of cant to can”. After her, FNB’s Strategic Planning Director appears saying “that they wanted to say something that is relevant to South Africans”. Both messages are inspirational and showed people who are passionate about their campaign and what they intend it will do to South Africa which in their own words was to start a Social dialogue about “change”.
Then the video goes on to show learners across South Africa. One learner says “I am not a public speaker or a politician but enough is enough”
From the Logo of the Independent Electoral Commission to the message of the young learner saying “enough is enough” one is forced to understand its meaning. FNB through its research from the learners wants change. And that change will happen through elections.
The video goes on to show how they selected the obviously acting girl on FNB’s advert. Through the footage, one can see that Kelly is from a middle class family; she goes to a good, resourced school and does not fall under the poverty line.
Thinking about an alternative they could have used.
Why did FNB only go to metropolitan area schools? All three of the provinces (GP, WC, KZN) they went to all amongst the Top performers in the country.
If they wanted to help, why didn’t they pick a girl from the rural areas of Eastern Cape; a girl who walks miles to school on an empty stomach. A girl who has classes under trees because there is no shelter and the only times she gets in a class room it’s a mud hurt that she shares with another grade.
Maybe they did not do this because they wanted to show us another side of South Africa. Not the hungry and poor one we always hear about.
Going further with FNB’s PDF report conducted by Youth Marketeers.
The report was conducted by FNB via their agency on 1 360 opinion-leading young South Africans from Various background.
It starts of by laying down the statistics about the research and how it was conducted. After statistics they quote the opinions of the learners who have taken the initiative of being the change they want to see in their country.
The first of many quotes says “The country is being overrun by poverty… while Jacob Zuma is renovating his home” another follows with “Our lives are being destroyed by people who have too much power”.
FNB’s advert calls for change, it calls for South Africans to help by using the “power that exist in all of us” as the CMO emphasised to stop the likes of Jacob Zuma.
More quotes followed stressing the need to fight crime in our country and eliminate poverty. All quotes sided on what the government is doing wrong than good. The learners scolded the government for its slow delivery of services, slow creation of jobs inability to protect children, women and people with disabilities and create a better future for our country.
Moreover, the quotes called for a change in the leadership of this country.
In the paragraph sub-headed with “WE MUST BE HEAD” learners were quoted saying.
“The Spear painting… and Julius Malema’s outbursts… are not what need our attention… so much time and energy is spent on them… Poverty and the economy are what need our attention…. We are so quick to harass the government but we are doing nothing about it… It starts now with how we [youth] behave…”
“South Africa has one of the best constitutions in the world and yet we fail to use it”
Another paragraph titled “CHANGE STARTS WITH THE YOUTH” these quotes followed
“We easily give up because we don’t have people who motivate us” [KZN, HIGH, F]
“The biggest issue in SA youth today is motivation…. Take a moment to look at ourselves” [WC, TERTIARY, F]
“The youth of South Africa lack drive and determination and ambition… translated: [SA’s youth will determine the future so I wonder how SA will be in the future]… I’m proudly South African” [GAUTENG, TERTIARY, F]
“We have the right to freedom… but are we really free? A lot of opportunities have opened for us like the NYDA… but we’re not going to them, we’re waiting for them to come to us… We have to stand up and do things for ourselves” [KZN, TERTIARY, F]
“It starts with the youth… they don’t go to school… but if they knew they had opportunities… Tell everyone to get up and do things for themselves” [GAUTENG, TERTIARY, F]
“…Dreams [of youth] are being unrecognised… the government people must give us strong guidance” [GAUTENG, HIGH, M]
“The future depends on youth” [GAUTENG, TERTIARY, F]
The following paragraph after this stresses the importance of education and how it has been abandoned by our government.
Few paragraphs down more quotes come.
“The fact of the matter is that this country may be on the verge of going down the drain… We look up to our leaders but if all they bring is deception through greed and corruption, then what meaning are they bringing to democracy… [But] there is room for pure unadulterated change… Think again before you undermine our country…. There’s more to be said and more to be done” [KZN, HIGH, M]
“Rise the beloved country… Rise against the injustice… and abuse… We have risen before, let us rise once more! No excuses to say that the country lacks leadership when we are all not doing anything. We all play a part” [WC, TERTIARY, M]
One last one I say
“If our leaders are corrupt who are we meant to be looking up to? Let’s exercise our right and go out and scrutinize the people we’re voting for… Let’s take voting and leadership seriously and that way we can take our country seriously” [GAUTENG, TERTIARY, M]
Watching the behind the scenes Video and reading the PDF document one realises that the FNB advert is more than a scripted inspirational advert. It’s a campaign trying to replicate what the youth of 1976 did. Like Kelly coming Live from Soweto Naledi High on the advert, the youth raised their voices to the then government and demanded change. They stood at the same grounds the FNB advert was made and revolted against a system that deprived them of their human rights.
This kind of research and campaign is something you would expect from an opposition party like DA. Its not falsified, it contains facts an honest opinions of young South Africans.
One does not need to be an ANC supporter to understand ANC’s response to the advert. The message was simple “The current government is not working for you, change it”.
Questions then rise of whether independent institutions that are not political connected should step and play a rather “political” or “advocacy” role in our young striving democracy.
And the ANC on the other side needs to stop being over sensitive. The majority of this country still elections after elections put in in power.
Esethu is a final year Media and Writing Student at the University of Cape Town. He loves both Media and Politics and is always amazed at how much power they hold over society. He tries in his own time to alert citizens about this. He is still making his way to Angie Motshekga’s office to ask for fees-change; his English teachers in Primary and High School did not do a good job. They taught him Elizabeth's language in Xhosa for over 12years.