Chicken for change? Robert Mugabe mocked in pop video
Video by World Cup group Freshlyground challenges Zimbabwe dictator ‘become the hero he used to be’ - and step down
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.
The puppets are designed by Jonathan Shapiro, alias Zapiro, a political cartoonist, whose provocative oeuvre includes an image of Zuma poised to rape Lady Justice.
Zapiro told the Times in South Africa: “I’ve been doing cartoons of Mugabe for years. Working with Freshlyground gave us the opportunity to finally add him to our cast of latex characters.
“Although I positively love this puppet, I truly hope we can retire him sooner rather than later.”
The video was directed by Thierry Cassuto, executive producer of satirical internet show ZA News. It was filmed in Cape Town with the band dressed in Zimbabwean-style 80s fashion.
Freshlyground’s seven members are a racial mix hailing from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Sarah Barnett, a spokesperson for the group, said they “believe in freedom of speech and that people should be able to talk about topics that affect many civilians”.
She added: “The video is not an attack on Mugabe at all. It is a tongue-in-cheek challenge for him to reflect on things and become the hero he used to be, to consider his actions and surprise us. We are not afraid of his reaction. Why should we be in a democratic world?” - guardian.co.uk