Dear Marvin …

I’ve been dropping my pupils on Marvin and just recently, my ears heard your voice on Cliff Central with G-Man The Ad Man. You know moss Grant?

Here’s the thing, after incorporating that interview into my morning rituals, I couldn’t help but think that ‘Kubi’… ‘Kubi’ blind my guy. The fact that I have to emphasize that I’m a black female creative in an industry where some agencies create ads where we see black people dancing for chicken or airtime, or young girls dancing on their period, grinds my cups. We don’t do that. ‘Period’

And why are black women getting excited over washing powder, calling upon the whole neighbourhood to witness the whiteness left by detergent? Why is the gospel star, Rebecca Malope herself even agreeing to this? Come on Ribs. I mean nobody gets that excited over doing laundry. If anything, this is the reason my black mother bought a washing machine – just to press some buttons and run the household while she waits for that ‘I’m done washing’ tone from her top loader.

This is a problem my guy.

With ‘udarkie’ being the dominating target-market in this country, I can’t help but ask myself: Where’s the insight-driven communication in advertising? Why is our language out of context? Why are we even casting roles for ads that aren’t representing the actual lives of the people we are communicating to? Where’s the ‘aha’ moment? The ‘oh yes’… that’s us, yithi laba?

Man, I scratch my forehead at the thought of being a junior copywriter in this ad-world. If anything, I shake my head the same way uGogo would shake her head at the kids playing street soccer outside of her home – you know, ‘because superstition’.

‘Sibanga isifo’ and it’s not sitting well with my insides.

Anyway. I’m a young babe in advertising and you don’t know my name… yet.

However, I’m part of that ‘We’re Coming For Everything’ movement. I’m all about it man. I’m within it. I get it – I get it. It means so much to me and if only I knew about it when I met Banele Rewo through Mr. Green Robot, Kgomotso Mautloa.

Speaking of Banele, the man once told me that my copy is too white. Now… I was confused and if anything bothered. Like what the hell does that mean? I didn’t understand that concept… up until now, where I’m working for a predominantly white agency. And he was right all right. That’s why I was hired: Ke ‘conditioned black-white’. I work well with the BEE certificate.

Thing is, being raised in schools where the ‘Queens Language’ was the only thing I was forced to master, all in the name of being in the good books with ‘meneer’, only now I understand that the very same institutions buried my culture. They made it secondary to the colonist movement that’s still hindering our people to move forward, despite democracy.

So what do I do?

To make my mama proud and not feel like shit for being in student loan debt: I suck it up and prepare myself for the black tax. I wake up every morning to make ungamla’s dream come true – ‘backseating’ my own. The same way umama did, and grandmamma did and great… great grandpa did. I take this subtle apartheid and cross my fingers for my black insight to be considered. I take everything they teach me, to vusa my people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a novice and perhaps my frustrations will only reach an all time high when I encounter more evils in this industry. Nonetheless, I can’t dismiss it. My goal has become clear: To be a creative that challenges the way ads communicate to udarkie.

This goal is necessary and the way I see it, we need to gather the numbers in this field to awaken our people from this deep sleep of ‘oppression oblivion’.

And it is through everyday learning that we’ll be enlightened enough to teach our people to unlock their greatness. They need us and we need them.

You see, some things need to be ‘demonised’ in order for us to motivate creative restoration for societal problems. We have an unapologetic task to challenge the passive order. Even if it means challenging our ‘bread and butter’, we shouldn’t hold back from being vocal about the things that take us 22 years back.

Yet we must teach each other to be strategic in thinking and in action, in order for us to obtain the good quality of life we rightfully deserve. We need to reinforce the customs that strengthened us in the past, so we can fruitfully develop our future.

It is our duty as the ‘insight-whisperers’ to shake things up and end these misinformed ideas that are channeled through target markets. If we communicate with accurate perspective, we’d be able to deliver informed truth by shattering unprogressive black stereotypes.

Anyway, without further ranting and raving, I’m just a concerned creative that refuses to be naïve. I cannot accept my people being a part of an ‘advertising circus’ that they aren’t even aware of. We can’t be silent and inferior. We too, deserve the freedom of speech and because it’s not channeled, it’s pivotal for us to create it for ourselves.

Forward with Marvin!

As you were.

Writer: Nandimande Mnguni