Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“I Love You Africa”

Coca Cola has released a new viral advertisement. It has a catchy song for a popular product, but it sends some disturbing messages.

There a billion reasons to believe in Africa.

Yes, there are a billion reasons to believe in Africa, but I am not sure that Coca Cola is aware of them.

While the world shakes and stumbles… Africa dances to a different beat.

The last time I checked the Arab Spring that shook the Arab world began in North Africa. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia are firmly attached to the African continent.

For every bank closed down… 2 million Africans send money back home.

This may not be common knowledge, but there are 54 recognized countries in Africa. The continent has over 1 billon people. According to the CIA World Fact Book there are over 34 million people in Uganda alone. Banks may shut down every day, but fear not, there are 2 million Africans sending remittances home to keep the continent afloat…

 As authorities try to tame the internet… Africa becomes the most mobile-connected place on the planet.

True. The Arab Spring spread like wildfire thanks to improving communication technologies. YouTube made “Kony famous,” the radio helped bring soldiers home from the bush in Northern Uganda. There are internet cafes in Gulu Town. Coca Cola’s viral advertisement plays multiples times every hour on the TV at our hotel. Boda boda men text while driving and there is a lucrative market for buying air time. 

While the rest of the world struggles to get back… 1,000 new businesses are opened in Africa every day.

Gulu recently acquired its Wal-Mart equivalent: Uchumi. At Uchumi it costs 4,000 shillings (approximately $2 USD) to get two packs of very stale, off-brand gum, 28,000 shillings for a bag of almonds and 22,000 for a bag of cereal. For less than 4,000 shillings one can enjoy a more nutritious, traditional meal at a local restaurant with foods you will never see on the shelves at Uchumi. Although some foreign investors are welcomed sources of employment, unchecked neoliberal capitalism has had a destabilizing effect, handicapping the local economy by increasing inflation and out-competing local businesses. Where the rubber meets the road is in a competitive advantage garnished through the nation’s forced adoption of economic policies that grossly undercuts governmental protection of local industries. So yes, businesses are opening; but most are stocked with foreign goods and have a predominantly foreign and/or upper class clientele.

While the world turns grey… we live life in full color.

Consult Uganda’s colorful Anti-Homosexuality debate…

While the world worries about the future… 1 Billion Africans are sharing a Coke.

Rephrase: While the rest of the world worries about clogging arteries and rotting teeth, many Africans struggle to afford a Coke.

The commercial is suggesting that while the rest of the world is concerned about tomorrow, Africans are not worried about acquiring potable water; they are not worried about affording school fees, combating HIV/AIDs, institutionalized corruption, inequalities or rising inflation. No, according to this advertisement they are all drinking a Coke. What Africans need is an overhaul of the predatory political economy of a global “free-market” system puppeteered by a ‘corporatocracy’ which profits from impoverishing the “developing world,” starting with Coke.  

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb6yctYKfhs

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