The fault in our Ugandan TV commercials

Okay I lied a bit in the title there. I don’t exactly mean “faults”, but lately I’ve realized that there’s a hidden message/lesson in most of our Ugandan TV commercials. Next time you’re forced to endure one of those things, look at it this way: there’s a lesson to learn. Like those things of “moral of the story” in our primary school storybooks.

  • First of all, there’s that DStv commercial with Patrick Idringi (Dr. Turner Show).

This one truly taught me something about life. The guy was complaining about not having DStv in his home and therefore missing out on lots of football matches. Dr. Turner then tells him about DStv and the channels it has, on which he can watch all the sporting action he wants. His reaction is simply crazy! The guy screams and jumps into the sofa in excitement, which makes me wonder what he’ll do when he actually gets the DStv connected in his home. In short, he’s happy at the prospect of it. Even before something actually happens in your life, just the expectation of it should be enough to give you happiness. Great lesson there.

  • Then, that infamous MTN commercial with the geeky kid.

For sure, the lesson in this one is that you’ll raise/grow crocodiles with the help of the internet. It’s actually symbolic. See, much as the internet will give you all the information you’ll ever want and more than you’ll ever need, it will also give you ways to put your life in danger, like, you know, how to raise (or grow) crocodiles. Be careful with the internet, people.

  • That Camay soap commercial. And the Lux one, for that matter.

The fate of the ‘true African woman’. This commercial is just too full of underlying meaning. Its soundtrack is a song talking about how that particular man is always in a hurry and has no time for his woman, so she begins to seek ways of getting his attention. Of course, the moment she uses Camay soap, he pays attention to her. And the song goes on to say something along the lines of “I’m a true African woman,” after she gets the man to look in her direction. In short, you marriage-age African women out there, this commercial just might be telling you of your fate; a life of seeking the attention of your absent-minded spouse. God forbid.

  • And then, those Mun G Airtel commercials.

Very straightforward lesson here; that two minutes is so so so much time. In that amount of time you can talk about the chicken and the egg, your nursery school days, the milk you bought at the supermarket  and just about anything else. Of course, this shows us the value of time. Never ever say that a minute or two is too little time. Have you seen how much Mun G can say in a minute? Patrick Idringi even sings an entire song in another commercial, this time by MTN. You can achieve things in two minutes. Stop saying you’re time barred.

  • And then, that Skin Guard commercial with a white woman.

This one is obvious; that sometimes (or many times) we need/want a white person to validate something we’ve not been giving much attention. A white woman, in a very sweet voice, assures us that Skin Guard is the best soap (or is it lotion? I forget). This isn’t the first time this has been done. I’ve seen white people in Ugandan commercials before, for some toothpaste or other, and I guess it works.

*Please note that the above is strictly my own interpretation and therefore not representative of what the companies actually want to mean in their commercials. At least, I hope it isn’t.


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