South Africa provides an interesting study in the use of advanced Propaganda by the Contemporary Post-Colonial African State.
For the purposes of our discussion, some light on the concept of ‘Nation’ would be useful.
An ‘Imagined Community’ is a concept coined by Benedict Anderson to analyze Nationalism. Anderson depicts a ‘Nation’ as a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group.
A Nation is therefore at its core primarily about a perceived State of shared ‘Common Consciousness’ amongst the members of the ‘Nation’.
South Africa (‘The Rainbow Nation’) As An Imagined Community
Handed the unenviable task of healing the fissures created by a ruthless Apartheid State, Nelson Mandela’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ was a gallant and effective response to the challenges faced by a young Post-Colonial South Africa. More than 20 years later, following Nelson Mandela’s death, the ‘Rainbow Nation’ has now faced challenges in the Social, Economic and Political space with disappointing results most represented by the current spate of unprecedented loadshedding/
Corruption and Economic decline have all put stress on the ‘Rainbow Nation’ as an Imagined Community.
South African Consumer Advertising As ‘Rainbow Nation’ Propaganda.
The Propaganda potential of Mass Media is well recognised. The Soviets, NAZIs and Americans are all acknowledged Masters.
From NAZI films like ‘Triumph Of The Will’, to America’s 1950s Consumer Advertising Revolution, Mass Media has been used by Governments to propagate and entrench the desired ‘National Ethos’ within the “Imagined Community’ through the overt or subliminal messages transmitted through Films and Advertising since World War 1.
In the case of South Africa, Middle-Class targeted advertising promoting everything from Cars to Fast Foods, propagates the idea of an ‘All Inclusive’ Rainbow Nation across all Socio-Economic strata.
This is far from the truth.
There appears to be a concerted effort to sweep away disappointments in Transformation, Governance and the Economy by a continuous barrage of ‘Rainbow Nation’ adverts. Whether Consciously or Unconsciously, South African Consumer Advertising has become the Propaganda by which Mandela’s Rainbow Nation is now sustained.
Indeed, people step into the Rainbow Nation during the course of an advert, as the constant barrage of adverts ensures that people are continually transported into the Rainbow Nation despite the evident failures.
The Rainbow Nation’s Future: From Propaganda To Violence & The Future Of Post-Colonial African Propaganda
In the event that the current wave of South African Consumer Propaganda does not sufficiently mitigate the challenges and distress, then the next phase by which the State will be controlled is violence.
This is a typical trend in Post-Colonial Africa, and with South Africa edging closer to 30 years, the need to invent new effective National Narratives that meet the needs of the current ‘Imagined Community’ grows ever-pressing.
The lessons to be learnt from the South African experience can be useful in understanding the changing Propaganda techniques employed by the Contemporary Post-Colonial State, as direct violence gets used less and less in the Mass Control of Contemporary Post-Colonial African States.
Rainbow Nation & Post-Colonial Identity: http://motspluriels.arts.uwa.edu.au/MP798gb.html
Advertising As Propaganda: http://americanadvertising.web.unc.edu/
SA Advertising & Rainbow Nation Building: http://www.transcity.com/inspiration/ght/