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#MeMu's: La Vache qui Rit (Adham Bakry, 2010)




La Vache qui rit is a brand of french processed cheese popular in Egypt. The packaging presents the consumer with the image of a laughing, happy cow. For years- since 1991 according to one author, this was the Egyptians nickname for their president, referencing his rural background and portraying him as a peasant. Additionally, it associated him with foreign imports and a particularly soft cheese that spreads easily on any kind of bread.

Prior to 2010, this nickname was mainly used verbally, in jokes or asides, but was popular with a people known for their sense of humour and sarcasm. In 2010, in the run-up to rigged parliamentary elections, Adham Bakry formalised the symbol by designing a sticker depicting a pink, crossed out Vache qui rit Logo (1). This visual reference to the thus branded president was taken up, both by demonstrators on Tahrir square (3), leaving outside observers to wonder at why the Egyptian people were demanding bread, freedom, social justice and no processed cheese for the country. Though it uses advertising language and is a highly visible sticker (2), it is a communication that very much uses local codes to attract attention, though online spread and contextualisation may have demystified the meaning of this sticker for many. Carlos Latuff, a caricaturist working mainly in the online space created an anthropomorphised version of the cows head logo for those who do not want to research its history, using the opportunity to show the Mubarak regimes hidden and obvious geopolitical allegiances. (4)




Footnotes:
Allen Peterson, Mark; http://connectedincairo.com/2012/04/07/telling-mubarak-jokes/; 2012

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