Friday, September 03, 2010
Chicken for change? Robert Mugabe mocked in pop video | World news | The Guardian
Freshlyground claim the song is not an attack on Mugabe, but 'a tongue-in-cheek challenge for him to reflect on things'
Robert Mugabe has never been known for his sense of humour. So you wouldn't want to be the apparatchik at Zimbabwe's State House explaining to the president how a music video that lampoons him as a chicken is threatening to go viral.
A latex puppet of Mugabe, redolent of 80s TV satire Spitting Image, is the star of a slick video by multinational African group Freshlyground, best known for their collaboration with Shakira on the official World Cup song Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).
The song, Chicken for Change, has a bouncy and upbeat feel that belies its serious political message. The video depicts an aloof Mugabe riding in the back of a chauffeur-driven presidential car and reading a newspaper, "Bob's Times", with the front page headline: "Glorious victory for Zanu-PF". It cuts to Freshlyground singing in a shebeen, dancing like chickens and challenging Africa's oldest leader to relinquish his 30-year grip on power.
At first lead singer Zolani Mahola pays tribute to the 86-year-old veteran's part in the struggle for Zimbabwe's independence, describing him as a "supernova". Her lyrics continue: "An iridescent example of honour for the coming generation/ You promised always to open the doors for us/ Indeed it is you and only you who sleeps with the key/ You are chicken to change!"
Mugabe's car comes to a sudden halt and some chicken feathers flutter in front of the windscreen. He looks out at an impoverished couple clutching chickens, but chooses to ignore them and drive on. Chickens have become used as barter trade, including as bus fares, in rural areas of Zimbabwe where cash is scarce.
At the end of the video, the Mugabe puppet transforms into a chicken with suit and spectacles intact.
The video also features puppets of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu playing dominoes, polygamous president Jacob Zuma flirting with women, former president Thabo Mbeki and other leading South African figures.