It must be lonely at Robert Mugabe’s during the holidays. That’s the premise of a new ad from South Africa–based fast-food chain Nando’s, which has scored a viral hit by depicting Zimbabwe’s President (or rather, a look-alike) all alone at a festive dinner table once crowded with his fellow dictators. Luckily, memories of sunnier days past — making sand angels with Saddam Hussein, karaoke with Chairman Mao, hitting the swings with P.W. Botha — keep Mugabe’s spirits up. (So does, presumably, the promise of a delicious Nando’s 6-Pack Meal, which includes 1½ flame-grilled chickens, two large portions of fries, a pile of bread and some Liqui-Fruit for the equivalent of about $20.50.)
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“Last Dictator Standing,” which racked up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views after only a couple of days online, is part of a Nando’s tradition of cheeky, sometimes controversial advertisements, which in the past have derived humor from sources as diverse as pole dancing, illegal immigration and rogue guide dogs for the blind. Though it has branches on five continents, Nando’s often pokes fun at local politics, releasing a blacked-out ad after a “secrecy bill” passed through South Africa’s National Assembly last week.
Though some YouTube commenters have objected to Nando’s making light of brutal tyranny, the dictator ad is not only topical but, in its way, somewhat historically accurate: Mugabe, shown here engaged in a joyous water-pistol fight with Muammar Gaddafi, was indeed good friends and business partners with the now fallen Libyan dictator. In later years, Mugabe disagreed with Gaddafi’s openness to Western investment — but who’s to say that before things went sour, they never frolicked in a garden together, then repaired to Mugabe’s house for some chicken?
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