Why a flashmob?
The operating context for TI-Zimbabwe is one mired with suspicion and prejudices against civil society by government organs. It still remains very difficult to conduct protests against any social ills like the rising levels of systemic corruption. Creativity continues to be TI-Z’s best advocacy strategy hence it piloted the use of flash-mobs to publicise its ALACs. While the police would usually monitor the use of placards including the message they carry and the number of participants at such protests, the flash-mob concept averted most of these so-called ‘legal requirements’.
Flashmobs have become a popular form of public artistic expression and get millions of hits on youtube. Typically consisting of a group of people who suddenly convene for a (dance) performance, our chapter in Zimbabwe decided to use flashmobs as an advocacy tool instead of for pure entertainment.
In a two day publicity campaign this September, TI Zimbabwe took to the streets to raise awareness of corruption and advertise their free legal advice service, Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACS). The flashmob consisted of a group of members of the chapter’s Youths for Transparency and Integrity (YTI) Clubs. They conducted a short dance routine and once a crowd gathered, they stopped to perform a brief drama skit illustrating incidents of corruption.
During both the drama and dance performances, some members of the youth group went in circles carrying placards deploring corruption in different sectors and members of TI Zimbabwe distributed flyers about their free legal advice service to the onlookers.
After the drama skit, the young people froze in an artistic display for 5 minutes as the Legal Advice Coordinator addressed the crowd. The whole routine was repeated every 20 minutes. The TI logo was painted on the faces of the participating youth symbolising adoption of values of accountability and integrity as part of the campaign.
Piloting flashmobs as an advocacy tool to publicise ALACs boosted the number of walk-in clients and email contacts, just as the Chapter had hoped it would. The event also made it on TV and into other media. See a video (in Shona and English) on the event below: