Umshini wami, umshini wakho

Umshini wakho campaign posters
I doubt that there's a South African alive right now who is not familiar with the phrase "Umshini Wami". It's the name of an old struggle song sung by Umkhonto we Sizwe during the apartheid years. More recently it's become famous (or notorious, depending on your perspective) as the song sung by president-elect Jacob Zuma and his supporters at ANC rallies. The main phrase repeated throughout the song is "Khawuleth'umshini wami", which is Zulu for "Bring me my machine-gun". This probably goes some way towards explaining my use of the word "notorious" in the previous sentence...

The posters you can see on the wall here, designed by advertising agency Young and Rubicam, are a clever twist on this piece of South African culture. They read "Awuleth'umshini wakho", which means "Bring me your machine gun". The posters were put up in February as part of a campaign to persuade citizens to hand in their unlicensed firearms. I have no idea whether they've been effective or not, but they're certainly eye-catching.

You can read more about the campaign and see a photo of the full poster on Marklives!com.

3 thoughts on “Umshini wami, umshini wakho

  1. eve

    Note: I don’t mean to imply IS Fairey’s, but I just mean very obviously influenced/inspired, similar to… not that he could have much to say about it, since he’s been appropriating images to use for ages. But if you look at his gallery at, it’s very similar in aesthetics.

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