Cartoons tell a helluva lot!


I like cartoons and enjoy viewing them each time I read newspapers. They tell great stories in a very subtle way. They entertain, enlighten and make us think out of the box. Cartoons are informative, interesting, and humorous yet mind boggling.

Masoud Kipanya (KP) does editorial cartoons which are extremely informative. This time around he presented President JPM in an elusive manner that leaves a great mind smirk! Great cartoonists of our times and present are doing us proud.

In the 70’s and 80’s, we had great names in this category such as the late Christian Gregory (Chakubanga & Polo), Philip Nduguru (Madenge, Lord Lofa and Comrade Kipepe in the Sani Magazine) and Godfrey Mwampembwa alias Gado (Kingo).

In the list we have also Ibra Washokera, Masoud Kipanya (KP), Nathan Mpangala, John Kaduma and Francis Bonda to mention but a few. Undoubtedly, they were and are creative in many ways.

The way they have created their characters and present their cases is astonishing. In my view, they deserve accolades. Like pictures, cartoons tell stories with great impact than all the editorial combine.

The characters, their names, hoopla and appearance and their communication cues are what makes the caricatures unique and irresistible. If you take a critical look into them they communicate a lot of sense and are a representation of major issues and the ordinary citizen in the streets.

Pick KP, for instance, annotate and cogitate his message to the government, politicians, activists, academicians and the society as a whole.

Again pick, Nathan Mpangala and his ‘Kibonzo’ on ITV and ruminate its power! Trust me, a lot of brain and talent is displayed to capture the attention of the reader and at the same time drive the message home.

If you are taking cartoons for granted, you will be making a great mistake. They usually communicate amazingly. To understand the message, it also calls for a laser-like brain and a critical eye.

Gado’s non-verbal cartoon is a case in point. This time around, a WhatsApp group member shared a video clip of a caricature depicting Tanzania’s President JPM, Uganda’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Rwandese Paul Kagame and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta.

The politically designed electronic caricature was both screen captivating and breathtaking. On this clip, the five Presidents were seeing discussing issues as a follow up to the deliberations that were made recently in Kigali during the African Union summit.

President M7 was the chairman and rest of the team were committee members. During the discussion, one could vividly see the mistrust amongst members thus making the ‘United States of Africa’ initiative a far-fetched dream.

Following a heated debate on where the ‘USA’ capital should be, Kigali was finally agreed by members to host the union. Alas, hell broke loose when they put on table who should be the first President of the ‘USA’.

You could simply figure out the drama that unfolded! Voting was suggested to clear the air. The official results that were announced by the Chairman left many puzzled.

President Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 3, Mzee Bob 3, Paul Kagame 2, JPM 1 and M7 got 6! Mind you, the members were only 5! This clip made me think and prompted the penning of this piece.

Yes, it was possible for President M7 to get 6 votes even when the voters were only 5. Who says it isn’t possible? Political frolics could always add up to that. Take no offence, you need to engage in politics to understand this.

And why did my President snatched only one vote? During the discussion, it was clear that he was the only President who meant business. He did not have a hidden agenda. Characteristically, JPM spoke of how the needs and aspirations of the ordinary citizens should be a top of the agenda of the envisaged ‘USA.’

He touched on issues of good governance, corruption and mismanagement. You could only see the faces of fellow Presidents when he touched on austerity measures! Presumably, that’s where he lost the winning hearts! I did not let it go and decided to go an extra mile to investigate on the experiences of the remaining Presidents.

JPM has just being in office for only two years, so there was a slim chance for him to clinch the position. The same position was for President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who has been in power for 4 years now.

The remaining three were long serving Presidents Africa has had. These were President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (36), Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda (31) and Paul Kagame (23).

Technically, JPM and UK were therefore out of the race even before votes were casted. Given RM’s, M7’s and PK’s years in office and their involvement in the regional politics, you could only see them on the race.

In the end, the viewer was left to wonder if ‘USA’ would ever be achieved in the near term. Such is the power of cartoons be it in print or electronic form. They drive a critical mind to think out of the box and see a bigger picture.

They present the feelings and aspirations of the ordinary people to their rulers as well as the characters and personalities of the rulers to their citizens. In this scenario, I am specifically referring to political cartoons hence the need to look at the importance of political cartoons at a glimpse.

In his Master’s thesis titled “Importance of Political Cartoons,”Meghana Lawate explained the importance of political cartoons at length. His observation of political cartoons is that they are an important part in any newspaper.

In addition, political cartoons adorn a small part of a newspaper, often in a corner but with a huge impact. “A cartoon conveys a lot of information in very few words. The emotions behind the political cartoons are genuine and although sometimes demeaning, are taken with a sense of humour,” he noted.

Conversely, editorials are for the elite masses who understand the intellectual content of the piece. Unlike cartoons, editorials have a tendency to be politically correct and hold back what gatekeepers consider ‘in a bad taste’.

On the contrary, cartoons are generally barefaced about their stand on the issue. Basically, editorial cartoons play a major part in African culture. They are visual metaphors that can be found in a variety of newspapers and magazines.

They often express a silent view of one or more parties or issues. Editorial cartoons are a form of nonverbal communication and are vital to our culture because they help shed light on issues that affect us as a people.

View, read and understand cartoons. You will never get upset as your lungs will be filled with oxygen and your face lightened!

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