Cartoons and election antics!


CARTOONS and politics are inseparable. Cartoons tell great stories in a subtle way. They entertain, enlighten and make us think out of the box. Cartoons are informative, interesting and humorous. Charmingly, they are mind boggling.

Great cartoonists of our times and present are doing us proud. In the 70’s, we had great names such as the late Christian Gregory (Chakubanga & Polo), Philip Ndunguru (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 persona is beyond the ordinary. Like pictures, cartoons tell a story with great impact than the entire editorial combine. The characters, names, appearance and hoopla and their communication cues are what make the caricatures unique and effective.

If you take a critical look into them you will realise that they communicate a lot of sense and are a representation of the ordinary citizens in the hoods. Pick KP cartoon, for instance, annotate and cogitate his messages to the government, politicians, activists, academicians and the society as a whole.

Again pick, Nathan Mpangala’s 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 their messages, you must have a laser-like brain and a critical eye. Gado’s non-verbal cartoon is a case in point.

Picture this, a cartoon showing a ‘lifeless hand’ of a person pounding the computer to access particular information (In Gado’s style of representation). Then think of political positions of great political philosophers such as Machiavelli and Locke to understand Gado’s message.

Undoubtedly, Niccolo Machiavelli and John Locke are among the most influential political philosophers of modern politics. Time and again they have been referred to when it comes to politics, elections, governments, Princes (Presidents), democracy, rights and liberty to mention but a few.

Machiavelli’s position on political Princes who vie for a second or third term in office drew a lot of criticism from political scholars across the globe. “…once in power you must use all the necessary means to remain in power,” he observed.

And he was quick to add that, ”The Prince must consider. . . how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other reproaches.”

John Locke on the other hand, defended the principle of majority rule and the separation of legislative and executive powers. These philosophers, however, lived in different times and political climate and their thinking and views were greatly shaped by the same.

Recently we have had a couple of elections in the Eastern part of Africa. We had elections in Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda and now Kenya. In DR Congo, political tension is brewing and the atmosphere is capricious.

Sadly, these elections have been marred by violence and corruption. Political parties have cried foul claiming that ‘Elections were held and rigged’! Poignantly, even the Americans are still grappling with the same situation following 2016.

An interesting 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 was widely shared in the social media to display ‘poligames and antics’.

The politically designed electronic caricature was both screen captivating and breathtaking. In the clip, the five presidents were seen discussing deliberations that were made in Kigali during the African Union Summit.

President M7 was the chairman and the rest were committee members. During the discussion, one could vividly see the mistrust amongst members, thus showing there is a long way to go before the ‘United States of Africa’ initiative becomes a reality.

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 the table who should be the First President of the ‘USA’.

You can 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, Comrade Bob 3, Paul Kagame 2, JPM 1 and M7 got 6!

Mind you, there were only five eligible voters! Machiavellian ‘moment’ showed its ugly head! Yes, it was possible for President M7 to gun 6 votes even when the voters were only 5. Who says it isn’t possible?

Political calculations could always add up to that. Take no offence; you need to engage in politics to understand this. And why did my President snatch 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 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 been in office for only 1 year and a few months, 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.

The remaining three are one of the long serving presidents we have in Africa. 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 cast. 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 make 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. View, read and understand cartoons. You will never get upset as your lungs will be filled with oxygen and your face lightened up!

Have a great ‘Sato’ Comrades

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