The energy in the hall was palatable. A seaof red had started to come alive… slowly,slowly the song grew both in depth anddecibels. Like clouds gathering, a storm was coming.I could feel myself being taken by the tide ofpeople as they slowly, deliberately began to fl owto the song. What started as one little voice hadbecome 20 voices, then 100 voices, then 1000voices; now, 2000 voices sang as one organ. Itis hard to explain the energy, but trust me whenI say it is addictive. Suddenly I understood whymembers of my family just cannot get enough ofpolitics. Why they will give up their personal timeand fi nancial resources and drive all night acrossBotswana to be at a Congress. Why they will crytears when their candidate does not make it in anelection. Why wars are fought for political parties.
I now understood why.There I was standing amongst these believers,these supporters of all things red. I was part ofthem, I belonged and I was part of somethingbig even if I was only an invited guest. The energyI saw and felt was immeasurable. I want itagain, I want it always. I would even pay to haveit again… it really is a drug, this thing called politics.I was in Maun a couple of weekends ago for the35th Botswana Democratic Party National Congress.Those who follow local politics will knowthat this year’s edition of this congress was fi redup by the huge media attention that it drew particularlyfor the coveted position of chairpersonof the party. Sadly, my preferred candidate forthe position did not win the contest, so forgiveme for not forwarding my view on why she lostor why he won as I would probably open a can ofworms that I would not be able to close…What Ido, however, want to draw your attention to is therole that activism has in society and why, whetherwe will admit it or not, we all have political ambitions.
We all have a view on how things should bedone, or what is right or wrong in our ‘humbleopinions.’ It is a feature that is hard wired into usas homosapiens, given the right platform and weare all ‘experts’ on all issues. Give any topic andI am sure we could all have some position for oragainst it. Let me provide a topic to demonstrate.The police introduced traffi c wardens a few yearsago to help ease the traffi c congestion on thestreets of Gaborone. There are two positions onthis issue: the cops are helping or the cops aremaking it worse. We all have solutions as to howthe issue of our poor driving etiquette could behelped or not by the State. In this instance we aretreated like children and directed to stop and go.Whether blaming the poor cop on duty is fair ornot is a topic for another day. What is clear is thatas we sit in our cars, in the grid-locked traffi c, wehave a position and an opinion on the traffi c.
By the time you get to work you have probablyforgotten about the irritation of the traffi c. Youhave moved onto another issue, perhaps the storyin the morning paper, or whatever happens to betrending on Twitter that day. I have been amazedat how many people have a view of what shouldhappen to Mandela… is this a political issuenow? Are we allowed to play God too? Let menot get distracted. The point is everyone has theability to have a view on any issue. As they say‘talk is cheap’ right? We all have this commodityin abundant quantities.
Here is something to consider:what separates the general public from politiciansis that not only do they have something tosay about stuff, but they are actually prepared totry and do something about it.They are prepared to stand up to public ridiculeand personal attacks on their characters in orderto walk the talk. Now I know that this is a columnabout brands but I would argue that the ability tostand your ground in the face of an opposing positioncan be likened to a product needing to standup to competing brands. It needs to hold its headup high, get onto its shoe box and get its messageacross in order to attain that all important vote. Inthe world of products this ‘vote’ is represented bythe ‘ching-ching!’ of a till.Voters choosing a product are akin to consumerselecting a brand.
Candidates express themselvesas a product, widely publicize their policy,stand on various issues, manifesto, anddecide way and means to advertise themselves,decide on the promotional mix andconduct market research. Thus, there existsa plethora of opportunity to apply marketingconcept in this new interesting domainthat is politics. Only the brave become politicians,I reckon, and the marriage betweenpolitics and brands often also sees only thebrave champion successful brands.What is the point of my ramblings thisweek? Well, I would like to take my hatoff and to all who Politic. It is not an easygame; those of us that stand on the sidelinesand have opinions on stuff can, Iwould argue, stand to learn a lesson frompoliticians at times.