That Hector Pieterson advert: living the dream, or struggle appropriation nightmare?

Ahead of Youth Day, music channel Channel O took out a full-page advert in national newspapers showing a recreation of the iconic image of Hector Pieterson being carried after being shot by the police. This time around, Pieterson’s body was replaced with a graduation cap and gown, and accompanied by the text, “Live the dream the youth of ’76 died for.”

The advert was designed by Don Dlanga, the brother of popular Twitter personality Khaya Dlanga, and some people were delighted by this spin on the world-famous picture, including tweleb Maps Maponyane and former DA parliamentary speaker Lindiwe Mazibuko.

This is so moving. “Live the dream the youth of ’76 died for.” #YouthDay #regram @zintathu @babydlanga

A photo posted by Lindiwe Mazibuko (@lindimazibuko) on

But not everyone shared these positive sentiments, saying that the depiction of Pieterson in the advert is problematic for a number of reasons.

Poet Lebo Mashile called the advert an attempt at Apartheid erasure.


This tweep summarised the issues with the advert.

And on Facebook, the debate continued. facebook                                                




















So is it then, as someone said in the comments of the @fistvoices post, a “brand win based on shaky shallow politics?” Dlanga tweeted his response on Monday afternoon. 

Do you agree with what the ad was trying to achieve, or do you think it’s a cynical manipulation of history for advertising purposes? Let us know in the comments below.

– Featured image: via @darknativeman on Instagram.