Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taking a Page from the Obama Playbook

It's election time again! In South Africa that is.

South Africans go to the polls April 22 and decide if Jacob Zuma, the loved and reviled leader of the African National Congress, the ruling party since 1994 that took South Africa out of arpartheid, goes head to head against Helen Zille, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, the official opposiiton, and a host of lesser parties (38 in total, many of them local, though the Congress of the People stands out).

While I know rather little about South Africa's politics, I know one thing when I see it: Obamamania.

Compare the following websites, that of the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. While the ANC page loo0ks like it's struggling to get out of the 90s, the DA page is full-on Obama, with their I-can't-believe-you-actually-copied-Obama's logo to that comforting blue background, and even to this call for volunteers: "contribute to change". Even the Congress of the People is touting Obama's message of hope with a nice, circular logo: "VOTE FOR HOPE - VOTE COPE".

While the DA and the COPE have their work cut out for them, from the sidelines, it's clear that elections from now until something bigger comes along will be all about trying out out-Obama each other, with sleek, sexy ads and messages of hope and change.

And who knows. It might just work.

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