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Drawing the Line

The History and Impact of Political Cartooning in Kenya
1 Drawing the Line


Drawing the Line

Drawing the Line
The history and impact of cartooning in Kenya


Drawing the Line

Published by: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), P.O. Box 14932, Nairobi, Kenya. Peponi Plaza, Peponi Rd. Telefax: +254-020-3748338/9 Email: and Association of East African Cartoonists(KATUNI) P.O. Box 3613-00200, Nairobi, Kenya. Email: (c) Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) (C) Association of East african Cartoonists (KATUNI)

ISBN: April 2004


Drawing the Line

Table of Contents Preface Foreword Section One A brief history of Political Cartoons Role of Catoonists Section Two History of cartooning in Kenya Early Cartoons Juha Kalulu Terry Hirst and Joe Magazine Resident Foreign Cartoonists Local Cartoonists The Challenges of Cartooning The Future Section Three The Study Findings Conclusions Directory of Local Cartoonists 6 7 8 14 16 17 19 20 22 24 27 29 34 36 42 42 5 Drawing the Line .

Preface Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Kenya Office 6 Drawing the Line .

political correctness or prejudice are effectively communicated through cartoons.L.O. Kudos to the Association of East African Cartoonist (KATUNI) for immortalizing the history of cartoons in the written word! Let this initiative be not a seasonal oasis in a desert of information but a modest beginning of what will be a vast ocean of ‘Katunist’ message for present and future generations.Foreword By P. many a newspaper reader has become so addicted to editorial and thematic cartoon strips that a newspaper without either is not considered a worthy buy. Lumumba Secretary. 7 Drawing the Line . In a nutshell. Constitution Review Commission of Kenya The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been so true as in the world of cartoons. Though cartooning as a medium of communication and expression is a relatively new phenomenon in Kenya. cartoons have become the sugar coating for the bitter but necessary message. We appreciate the now settled role of cartoons and their creators as the latter day conscience of the nation. This justifies the universal popularity of cartoons as the lingua franca of satire. Messages that cannot be conveyed in words for sensitivity.

Intended to be lighthearted satires. 8 . the principles of form established in part by Leonardo had become so ingrained into the method of portraiture that artists like Agostino and Annibale Carracci rebelled against them. there is no simpler or more effective form of journalism than the editorial or political cartoon.”*) are for the most part composed of two elements: caricature. who wanted to decorate the walls of the Drawing the Line new Houses of Parliament in London with frescoes. which parodies the individual. in essence. The word did not come to mean “an amusing sketch” until the 1840s when Prince Albert. some of them absurd in their attempts to appear heroic. The cartoons for the frescoes. the Italian word for “pasteboard.Background A Brief History of Political Cartoons Knife-edged and salient. which creates the situation or context into which the individual is placed. Caricature as a Western discipline goes back to Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic explorations of “the ideal type of deformity”— the grotesque— which he used to better understand the concept of ideal beauty. Over time. “counter-art”. Political cartoons (from cartone. and allusion. their caricaturas were. and often funny. opened a competition for their design. thus earning the word its present meaning. The message – usually critical – is instantaneous. which were especially useful in preparing frescoes and tapestries. were exhibited in 1843 and parodied shortly thereafter in the English magazine Punch. * The Italian masters used pasteboard for rough drawings (cartoni).

As a result. they were not displayed publicly and so one of the earliest modes of graphic satire remained in the parlour and drawing room. but they perceived the “fanciful exercises” as curiosities rather than viable artistic productions. cartoons of a more editorial nature developed in a chillier climate. the success of both Martin Luther’s socio-religious reforms and the discipline of political cartooning depended on a level of civilisation neither too primitive nor too advanced. and made extensive use of visual propaganda. Caricaturas became popular with collectors.The sketch of “A Captain of Pope Urban VIII” is representative of the new genre in that it is a quick. At its best. impressionistic drawing that exaggerates prominent physical characteristics to humourous effect. The Protestant Reformation began in Germany. which meant that a core of people existed who would respond 9 Drawing the Line . A merchant class had emerged to occupy positions of leadership within the growing villages and towns. it brings out the subject’s inner self in a kind of physiognomical satire and seems to be a comment on some facet of the Captain’s masculinity. While caricature originated around the Mediterranean.

The distribution of simple broadsheet posters or illustrated pamphlets throughout population centres proved to be an effective strategy because the images would reach a large amount of people and enjoy the greatest possible amount of comprehension. Finally. but in order to lead a truly popular movement he would need the sheer weight of the peasantry’s numbers. With regard to the physical requirements of graphic art. puts Luther’s invectives and be economically capable of resisting the all-powerful Catholic Church. Luther recognised that the support of an increasingly more powerful middle class was crucial to the success of his reforms. “Satire was once the way for illiterate people to make sense of what was going on in politics.” An excellent example of Luther’s use of visual protest is found in two woodcuts from the pamphlet “Passional Christi und 10 Drawing the Line . As Barry Burden. assistant professor of government at Harvard University. the factor which probably influenced the rise of cartoons more than any other cultural condition was a high illiteracy rate. both woodcutting and metal engraving had become established trades. with many artists and draughtsmen sympathetic to the cause.

11 Drawing the Line . As time went on.The artist juxtaposed the first scene with a contemporary tableau that many people would also understand: the Pope writes indulgences while common folk pay their hard earned money in tribute.Antichristi”. The hegemony of religion at the time ensured that when someone drew a Biblical episode like that of Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the Temple.the context of a widely-recognised story or setting— to get his point across. These two images contrast the actions of Jesus with those of the Church hierarchy. The cartoon became a substantial medium of commentary which took serious issues and presented them in a manner which was not only amusing. “Passional Christi und Antichristi” also demonstrates the artist’s use of the second element of political cartoons-. everyone would recognise it. Germanic art assimilated the Italian caricatura and established the conventions practiced on a wide basis by cartoonists of the 18th Century. The two pictures clearly intend to raise public consciousness by illustrating the premise that changes must be made within the Church for life to ever become more Christlike. originally drawn by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

but also designed to affect the viewer’s opinion. Germany. equating them with murderers.and therefore more socially acceptable. In the 18th Century the cartoonists of England. Russia. But four copperplate images. the only election he was ever to lose. and the United States generally declared satirical war on Napoleon. its separate parts labeled as colonies. of Franklin himself. a 1764–65 series. are considered the true beginning of the tradition in their comic-but-cutting depiction of a political event. and so effective were they that Napoleon sent notes to the government of England requesting their suppression. and particularly. Spain. showing a severed snake. As Western culture diversified from its original religious foundation. By the mid-19th century. as such the appeal and influence of cartoons on public life grew in proportion. This is sometimes credited to Benjamin Franklin for his famed Join or Die of 1974. The series inflamed tempers during the 1764 elections and ultimately cost Franklin his seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly. The American political cartoon was born in Philadelphia. editorial cartoons had become regular 12 Drawing the Line . new subjects became available for discussion and subsequent ridicule.

Tweed’s exasperated response speaks to the power of Nast’s cartoons. 29 countries have jailed or otherwise punished newspaper cartoonists. My constituents can’t read. according to the Cartoonist Relief Network which is dedicated to the protection of the rights of 13 Drawing the Line . They also destroyed or exiled cartoonists critical of them. considered the century’s greatest cartoonist.” In recent years. During the “Battle for Britain” Englishman David Low. was put on Hitler’s “death list.features in American newspapers. a New York politician in the 1870s. I don’t care what the papers write about me. the influence of cartoons was such that Hitler and Stalin surrounded themselves with large groups of “pocket” cartoonists who praised them extravagantly. He demanded of his henchmen. they can see pictures!” In the 20th Century. The effect of political cartoons on public opinion was amply demonstrated with the demise of William Tweed. But. damn it.“Stop them damned pictures. and were soon followed by sports cartoons and humourous cartoons. largely caused by the attention paid to him by cartoonist Thomas Nast.

Cartoons focus overwhelmingly on the leaders of the party in power. The role of cartoonists As we have seen. cartoonists are watchdogs. In totalitarian regimes the artist is forced to praise the system and denounce its enemies. attitudes and preoccupations. Director of Cartoonists Relief Network and a 30-year veteran of international community 14 Drawing the Line .” According to Dr. “One might then generalise that cartoonists focus on office-holders and aspirants whom the public can hope to defeat in an election or a popular uprising. and when the regimes become brittle cartoonists mercilessly expose their rigid foolishness. Cartoons provide a running commentary on events. In authoritarian regimes some dissent is allowed. keeping power-holders honest and accountable. for half a millenium cartoonists have exposed abuses of power.editorial cartoonists. Other government and business figures are in the minority. Robert Russell. According to one theory. In a Western (style) democracy during peace-time. cartooning depends on the political system. the corruption of government and the hypocrisy of society. people. as reported by Ray Morris of York University. and reflect momentary shifts in public sentiment.

the man on the street could never tell me the name of any editorial writer in their local press.development. human rights and humanitarian assistance “the editorial cartoonist in most developing countries continues to be an important and highly efficient point of national political and policy debate.” 15 Drawing the Line ... a study of the visual images of presidential candidates portrayed in the editorial cartoons in the 2000 US presidential election campaign.If the prime role of a free press is to serve as critic of government. “The Cartoon”: “Cartooning is an irreverent form of expression..successful in helping society to understand and make judgments about the extremely complex interactions at work in political systems.” Cynthia Bailey Lee states in ‘A Semiotic Analysis of Political Cartoons’. US cartoonist Herb Block... who coined the term “McCarthyism” and attacked the infamous anti-communist investigations of that era notes in his essay. “ As I constantly searched for the most efficient and effective point of democratic intervention when assigned to small Third World countries where budgets for social development were so very small.” He adds. but even the illiterate population always knew who their favorite editorial cartoonist was.” Finally. cartooning is often the cutting edge of that criticism. “political cartoons are..

for caricaturing is much older than journalism. It is near impossible to tell the story of cartooning without going back. to that of journalism. Journalism in Kenya is a little over a century old.000 years. in the Karonga Kronikal. While cartooning may be riding on the back of journalism today. for instance. It is a story that can be told through the prism of a triple-M 16 Drawing the Line .Section One The historical development of cartooning in Kenya The history of journalism and cartooning in Kenya are closely intertwined. These go back in time to about 12. literally across the continent. the history of this art would simply dwarf that of journalism if the former were documented. even if only referentially. it can be argued that in Africa. The rocks of Africa are host to millions of images caricatured on them. often traced back to the founding of the East African Standard in 1902. What makes the connection between these and later caricaturing is occasional similarity between the way people are caricatured on the rocks and some of the early cartoons that appear.

But the commercial papers. Whether early missionary sponsored newspapers carried any caricatures is not clear since there are no records to that effect and the copies of theses publications have since disappeared into the mist of time. particularly those identified with the colonial government. and finally the merchants took over. in an article titled “With Jannie 17 Drawing the Line . for the pleasure of the civil servants. Page. and merchants. According to Melvin E. the mercenaries followed and furthered the course of journalism through colonial government sponsored publications. The missionaries came. Early Cartoons The earliest reference to cartoons in East Africa chronicles the circulation of caricatures among soldiers fighting in World War I. pioneered literacy and publication. soon were carrying syndicated cartoons.heritage: missionaries. has remained largely true in the case of Kenya. a trend that began with the founding of Kenya’s oldest newspaper and in spite of Africa’s history of government control of the media. mercenaries. pretty much in that order.

was created for and by the troops. at least one humour magazine. the Karonga Kronikal. such as in positions impersonating African women or as cowards hiding behind African men. “Cartoons and anecdotes circulated throughout East Africa. often revealed this attitude toward 18 Drawing the Line . In East Africa. Cartoons also helped define the enemy. Page observes: “Even in situations where the figure of the German was not present. though. What one can easily decipher is the typical colonial stereotyping of the Africans then prevalent.” These cartoons in East the Jungle: European Humour in an East African Campaign” published in The International Journal of African Historical Studies in 1981. the structure of the humour. however. rather than the butt of the joke. Page writes: “The enemy in Europe was frequently painted in horrific terms. a Teutonic barbarian cruelly smashing the innocent and righteous. by depicting German soldiers comically.” The purposes of the Kronikal and other sources of humour were to boost the morale of the soldiers and to provide an outlet for their frustrations. In comparing the war cartoons in Europe and those in East Africa. seldom featured Africans as subjects. he was much more amusing.

The mission was headed by a missionary. “Juha Kalulu” draws from two African languages: “Juha” being Kiswahili for a clown and “Kalulu” being Nyanja (spoken in 19 Drawing the Line . in setting the guidelines under which the paper was to be published. seemed to have preferred Britain’s Punch. who. Gitau came into cartooning literally by accident. Robert Laws. among other positions. edited by Phillip Mitchell (who was later to serve as.” The Kronikal. He had fallen off the roof of a building while laying wires. Gitau about 1950. No longer able to handle heavy objects. Juha Kalulu. as a model.Africans. was published in Livingstonia Mission in Nyasaland (now known as Malawi). A former electrician. in the process breaking his arms. the First Indigenous Cartoon Indigenous cartoons in Kenya started with E. The cartoon strip that he launched then. Gitau discovered his artistic talent and started to draw.G. “Juha Kalulu” still runs today. the colonial governor of Kenya) and Edmund Richards (later governor of Basutoland and Nyasaland).

The strip features a man and his constant companion. another Swahili newspaper. He closed the decade of the seventies and opened up the eighties with his Friday feature at the Daily Nation which fast gained a following. “Juha Kalulu” thus enjoyed monopoly until the emergence of Terry Hirst in the mid-1970s. Terry Hirst and Joe Magazine Terry Hirst was the first political cartoonist in Kenya. 20 Drawing the Line . launched a year earlier as a weekly. The main character is a wanderer roaming the countryside often on missions that would be befitting a clown. When Tazama folded. he also contributed cartoons to some vernacular ones.Malawi) for hare. if they were not from Agutu or Gitau. When other newspapers carried cartoons. Gitau moved the strip to Baraza. Kenya’s longest running. While Gitau drew for these newspapers. later to become a daily. in 1960. According to Gitau. then they were syndicated. a dog. the only other cartoonist during this early period was William Agutu. moved his strip to Taifa. Gitau then. first appeared in Tazama. Baraza (founded in 1939) folded just shortly before independence. The comic strip.

He specialised in depicting social scenes and the then quiet political life in rural areas. it was as if the country had lost a national celebrity. The realism of Joe was infectious. he almost had a life of his own. a lively monthly magazine featuring the character “Joe” through whose eyes the reader was exposed to a variety of social issues. Hirst unlocked the potential of cartoons to discuss any issue. When the magazine ceased publication. If something affected ordinary people. Joe did not shy away from the political. who are obviously fictional. Unlike characters in other cartoons. Joe could be depended upon to speak on your behalf. Joe provided the inspiration for many of the cartoonists who followed. and chances were that his views would pretty much represent what you would have said. Nearly a quarter of a century later. Joe gave the impression that he was a next-door neighbour. 21 Drawing the Line . Joe is still remembered fondly on Nairobi streets. Unlike “Juha Kalulu” which never cared for social issues or politics. He teamed up with Hillary Ng’weno in the early 1970s to launch Joe Magazine. Though the magazine ran for only about three years. Besides serving as a role model.

Ndunguru died in March 1986 at only 24. besides drawing political cartoons. a weekly news magazine issued every Friday. which became a hit with readers as a social comic strip. joined the Daily Nation where. and The Weekly Review. he wrote humour. Three were particularly influential: Tanzanian Philip Ndunguru. James Tumisiime. issued every Sunday. Ugandan James Tumisiime and Ghanaian Frank Odoi. Resident Foreign Cartoonists The cartoonists who immediately followed Joe were from outside Kenya. Hirst was seldom heard of in the cartoon world. Sadly. Nairobi Times became a launch pad for budding cartoonists. an agricultural economist.Ng’weno later founded the weekly Nairobi Times newspaper (later to be sold to KANU and re-christened Kenya Times). “Kazibure” literally means “of no use” and the main character spent time essentially living up to the title. where he introduced “Kazibure”. When Hilary Ng’weno founded Nairobi Times 22 Drawing the Line . Ndunguru joined Kenya Times in 1983. After the collapse of Joe. The strip connected to the social issues that had been Hirst’s forte.

Tumisiime published two comic books while still in Kenya.Tumisiime became an economics correspondent and later business editor. he moved back to Uganda where he has been involved in many pursuits including serving in the Ugandan cabinet. Ghanaian born Frank Odoi started drawing political cartoons for the Nation in 1979. At the Times Tumisiime drew cartoons as well. Odoi. while providing continuity and acting as an important bridge. reflective and intended for adult readership. His characters tend to be much more mature and his themes more complex. who now produces a series of weekly comic strips. 23 Drawing the Line . “Kazibure” and “Bogi Benda”. “Radi”. In 1986. and longest active cartoonists on the Kenyan scene. One of his most popular characters was “Bogi Benda” who is probably best described as an African “Andy Capp”. he continued with the paper even after KANU acquired it in 1982 and changed the name to Kenya Times. is one of the most socially and politically conscious. particularly in the comic strips. His other columns include “Akokhan”. still pale in comparison with the robust environment that Hirst set in Joe. “The Mermaid of Motaba” and “Golgoti”.

Odoi’s work has been published broadly in the Nordic countries and throughout Kenya. According to Sunday Nation editor John Agunda. Tanzania. Koskei was to remain largely a commentator on social subjects. At the Nation. he had been caricaturing for inhouse magazines and publications in Mombasa on the Kenyan Coast. and Uganda. Local Cartoonists About the same time Odoi was working at the Daily Nation. However..” and “Apex”. Madd was primarily an op-ed cartoonist focusing on political and social issues. Like Hirst.“Living World”. Prior to that. “Checkmate. Tumisiime and Ndunguru have served as role models for later Kenyan cartoonists. local cartoonists begun to make their presence felt.. Madd joined the Nation in 1986 as the country’s first full time staff editorial 24 Drawing the Line . “Maddo was. One of the first was Koskei Kirui whose work was published in the East African Standard. Odoi. Paul “Madd” Kelemba was the first indigenous political cartoonist to reach national prominence.

James “Kham” Kamawira was hired as the main editorial cartoonist 25 Drawing the Line . as his cartoons and themes have a remarkable semblance to those in Joe. For example. With the agitation for political change in the late 1980s and early 1990s.” He provides the clearest connection to Hirst. cartoonists became bolder and Madd is credited with being the first to caricature the then President Daniel Arap Moi. back then it was revolutionary. During the 1980’s when the first local editorial cartoons were printed in the local dailies. There were such drawings in the informal publications but these were largely underground papers with limited circulation. more opportunities opened up. at least in the formal media. Though the presidential caricature has since become commonplace in Kenyan cartoons. while one could caricature ministers and provincial commissioners. the prevailing political climate discouraged cartoonists from exploring sensitive subjects. As newspapers recognised the important contribution cartoonists could make.naughty as ever. such as the clandestine press of the University of Nairobi. cartooning the President was out of the question.

26 Drawing the Line . Courier International and Le Monde both in France. the Financial Mail and New Nation both in South Africa. before settling in at the Standard. and Japan Times. Tanzanian Godfrey “Gado” Mwampembwa replaced him at the Nation and was to become one of Africa’s most internationally celebrated cartoonists. he worked briefly. The editorial cartoon is a permanent feature of editorial pages and the popularity of the composite cartoon commentary pioneered by Madd’s “It’s a Madd Madd World” is testimony to local cartoonists’ talents as social and political commentators. for the East African Chronicles. For example. When Madd moved to the Standard. after which. Today. still as a cartoonist. the Nation has a pool of six cartoonists. Des Standard of Belgium. most local dailies have more than one staff cartoonist on their payrolls. Washington Times. Gado’s works have appeared in a number of publications such as New African in the UK.for Kenya Times.

the Nation Group has about six cartoonists but only a few of them publish regularly. are also mass oriented. (Penknife though has been resurrected as an inser in the Sunday Standard). Kenyan cartoonists have an identity crisis — whether they are 27 Drawing the Line . The two main dailies can use only a limited number of cartoonists. of which only two. all of which have ceased publication after a limited number of issues. the Nation and the East African Standard are truly mass newspapers. The efforts by Communication Artists Limited (CAL). Hardly any of the country’s numerous magazines use cartoons. Although the other two dailies. a company founded by four of the leading cartoonists. At the moment. and Penknife. their combined circulation is still less than that of the Standard.The Challenges of Cartooning One of the challenges that Kenyan cartoonists face is finding sufficient media through which to expose their work and exploit their talent. the challenge for any budding cartoonist is formidable. With only four newspapers. Kenya Times and People. have led to the launching of several cartoon-based publications including The African Illustrated.

an independent profession or part of journalism. Another worry is the occasional threatening phone call from individuals who do not like the cartoonist’s portrayal of them. The problem that figures topmost in cartoonists’ minds.. All top cartoonists have reported receiving such calls at one time or another.water down cartoon commentary development and push it back to where it was at the outset thirty years ago.” Though Kenyan cartoonists nowadays enjoy a relatively large degree of freedom and the fact that no cartoonist has been charged or sued in court is testimony to this. is that of editorial censorship. For example when in 2002 Parliament enacted a law curtailing press freedoms.. Paul “Madd” Kelemba is concerned that “editors will. according to its Secretary-General Ezekiel Mutua. are recognized as such by the Kenya Union of Journalists. cartoonists organised a workshop to discuss the effect on their work and to lobby for the law’s repeal. they are alert to any developments that may endanger this freedom. they feel that the specific title of “Cartoonist” is not well regarded. Though they definitely consider themselves journalists and. 28 Drawing the Line .

KATUNI has also made a concerted effort to improve local cartooning skills through workshops and seminars. An increase is also perceived in demand 29 Drawing the Line . there future of cartoons is perceived as bright. they have established the Association of East African Cartoonists (KATUNI) which was set up in Where is cartooning going in Kenya? Given the reception and development that cartoons have undergone in the last 20 years.The Future Cartoonists are coming together to tackle some of these difficulties. The website is a boon to both established and less known cartoonists. where works of cartoonists are displayed. KATUNI has partnered with organisations such as the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in various projects including launching a website. www.kenyatoons. The association has also strived to keep cartooning relevant by organising local and international cartoon exhibitions on issues such as terrorism and the Constitution review process. Cartoon use in the traditional media is on the rise and opportunities have been identified in other fields. In addition to forming commercial entities such as CAL.

Malaysia’s Creative Enterprises. With the efforts of KATUNI. many feel it won’t be long before cartooning is recognised as a distinct profession. This has compelled many cartoonists to view animation as a means of widening the reach of their works. teachers use comics as the first step in literacy campaigns. promoted poetry. A study carried out by KATUNI* showed that a significant 36% of the populace came into contact with cartoons through TV. More ways to depict cartoons are evolving as Kenyans move from the newspapers to books and even the internet in search of cartoons.for comic books/magazines. they have been used in bilingual courses. through its Bambino comic magazine. And they feel that more young people are expressing interest in taking up cartooning as a profession. Thailand’s Department of Non-Formal Education published comics designed to teach rural people everything from breastfeeding to workers’ rights. moral lessons. The same government * See Section 3 30 Drawing the Line . especially among young children. cartoons and comics have been very popular as a teaching resource. In other parts of the world. and throughout Asia. and stories of legendary Maly warriors. In Mexico.

a four-volume work explaining the country’s complex economic system. Superman-like. Japanese educational comics have had phenomenal success. writing. provocative. The Japanese government picked up on the idea as its Economic Planning Agency issued a comic book explaining the 1987 White Paper on the Economy. Each of the first three volumes almost immediately sold 1.department in Nepal developed comic books to teach reading. using stories that were dramatic. and able to discuss serious social issues.1988) said Oishimbo is a “story of a lazy newspaper reporter who transforms himself. The Hong Kong-based Asiaweek (May 6. such as the hazards of artificial flavoring. An English-language version was published in the U. the Chinese government issued serial picture books 31 Drawing the Line . and mathematics.” One of the most popular educational comic books has been The Japanese Economy for Beginners. into a gourmet chef who offers tips on cooking and sometimes pontificates on related issues. For years. Each of its 15 volumes sold more than one million copies. a serialised cartoon published as a book in 1984. starting with “Oishimbo” (Gourmet).5 million copies.S.

started his own magazines when it struck him that foreign comics were damaging Indian children. a comic book was designed and distributed by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola to teach illiterate masses the meaning of independence and the path to it. There are other examples of comics used for developmental purposes. Appalled at young people’s ignorance of Indian history. Indian classics. he combined a simple format. One of India’s main comics editors. and historical events in his comics. His comics helped with national integration and provided a substitute for storytelling grandparents displaced in the dissolution of the family system. and folklore. warned children 32 Drawing the Line . included 300 titles. which by 1984. explained a controversial government bill in Singapore. mythology. while Pakistan’s Aga Khan Central Health Board did comic books to encourage people to use iodized oil capsules for the prevention of goiter. In Peru. a book of line drawings was distributed to illiterate and semi-literate peasants to promote immunisation and family planning. comic books carried health messages to rural Honduran children.for educational and propaganda purposes. Elsewhere. In Angola in the 1970s. Anant Pai.

stereotypes of women.about AIDS in Hong Kong. and pointed out the dangers of smoking in Malaysia. and empathy. awareness. Obviously. and nuclear power. Thus. drug taking. In the Philippines. we are not talking about comics as an educational tool in the classroom alone. comics can be a potent teacher and enough documentation exists to show that they have been. but so are the educational potentials of comics in other spheres such as building morals. where “komiks” are considered the national book. alcoholism. That is important. pollution. the exodus to the cities. Kenyan cartoonists would do well to explore these areas as avenues of utilsing the power of cartoons. the Green Revolution. inside and outside the classroom. social concerns. they have been used in campaigns about family planning. 33 Drawing the Line .

Objectives The specific objectives of the study were: To explore public perceptions and attitudes to cartoons. Methodology The study was carried out in three phases Quantitative survey A questionnaire with both open and closed questions was administered to a selectively random sample of newspaper readers. While difficult to measure directly. The objective of this phase of the research was to 34 Drawing the Line . To explore the effect of cartoons on the politics of the country. this study broadly sought to assess the impact of editorial cartooning on the political development of Kenya. an indication of this impact could nonetheless be gotten by studying cartoonists’ effect on public attitudes and the reactions of politicians/government to cartoons.Section Three The Study Sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and carried out by KATUNI.

700 interviews were carried throughout the major urban towns selected for the study included Nairobi. In-depth interviews Face to face interviews were conducted with newspaper editors. desk research was carried out over the internet and particular reference was made to the work of Levi Obonyo who was then completing a PhD dissertation on Kenyan cartooning at Temple University in the USA. Kisumu and Kisii.quantify the responses from a sample that was representative of newspaper readership in Kenya. cartoonists. Mombasa. Thika. Machakos. political and social commentators. 35 Drawing the Line . Nakuru. In addition to the above. Eldoret. Focus group discussions Two focus group discussions were conducted in Nairobi. Kakamega. The two groups were split into cartoon consumers and the cartoon artists.

Most interesting sections of the newspaper Headlines Editorial Sports Business 7% 21% 20% 36% The editorial pages (where most newspapers print the daily editorial cartoon) were second only to the headlines as the most interesting section of the paper. This indicated that the majority of the respondents were in contact with editorial cartoons on a daily basis. Exposure to cartoons 88 % of the respondents read newspapers daily or several time a week. The newspaper market is dominated by two publications. the Daily Nation and the East African Standard. Newspaper association with cartoonists About 75% of the respondents correctly identified Gaddo and 36 Drawing the Line .The Findings The study focussed on newspapers as the major carriers of editorial cartoons.

Though self-published results of readership by one of the two dominant newspapers have indicated a market share of 80%. a majority of respondents could correctly identifycartoonists for the rival publication. This indicates that cartoonists’ popularity spans the divide. This indicates a demand for cartoons among the consumers.KJ as cartoonists for the Nation newspapers. Most attractive feature of cartoons Humour Message Artistic Skills 15% 37% 45% The above speaks to the effectiveness of cartoons as carriers of political messages. Would cartoons make you buy a newspaper? Almost half the respondents said their purchase decision would be influenced by the presence of cartoons in a newspaper. 63% of the respondents correctly listed Kham and Maddo as cartoonists for the EA Standard. 37 Drawing the Line .

Only 3% felt that fear of government was a hindrance to the work of cartoonists. Why cartoonists employ caricature 83% thought caricature served to emphasise message or to inject an element of humour into the message. Issues ignored by cartoonists Spiritual.Cartoon retention and recall Some of the more memorable cartoons included: “Moi dancing ndombolo” “President Kibaki’s Nose while playing Golf” “Moi and Raila as bed fellows” “A person tied to a [bicycle taxi]. 38 Drawing the Line . economic and education issues were said to be ignored areas by cartoonists. It is evident that cartoon recall was based on the humour it generated or particular issues addressed. sexual. Only 8% saw it as a personal attack on the “victim”. Some of the cartoons were published in 2002 which demonstrates that cartoons can be retained in memory for a long time. that has met the new transport regulations” 75% of the sample could remember some cartoons.

” “We draw the public’s attention to serious issues in the political arena.” “Cartoons demystify people in power and bring them down to a level where they can be viewed as normal human beings who make mistakes!” “Cartoons serve as a mouth piece for the weaker majority who cannot express themselves” Most cartoonists felt their work was constrained by timid newspaper editors and the cultural values in the country.Cartoonists perceptions of their role Cartoonists described the focus of their art as using humour to highlight important issues and regulate the behaviour of political leaders: “A cartoonist uses humour to make a point. They also complained of a shotage of sufficient media through which to expose their work and exploit their talent “We are hopeful that we will get a new genre of editors” “The number of newspapers in the country is limited and cannot effectively cater for the interest of the different communities” “The editorial contents of the papers target the urban middle class and hence misses out on the rural populace” “Some subjects. are regarded as taboo” 39 Drawing the Line . such as sex or religion.

Consumer perceptions Cartoonists’ work is described as well researched: “I think they are great researchers. They also thought cartoons had an effect on the behaviour of politicians.. “The bolder they are the more bolder we become” “Cartoons inspire people to discuss things” “They are an effective way to communicate serious political issues without the fear of facing the law” “Cartoons have made politicians cautious and watchful with their words” 40 Drawing the Line .” Cartoonists’ work is also seen as elitist: “You must have gone through some point of schooling” “It’s a kind of a leisure activity for the elitist group who are knowledgeable” Cartoonists ar perceived as humourists: “Cartoonists are expected to make people laugh” Effect of cartoons The in-depth interviews revealed that many felt cartoonists had inspired the public to be bold and question politicians on issues affecting their lives. They would not just draw anything out of the blue” Cartoons educate and inform: “Cartoonists have a message because I can connect to what they are saying.

Though no cartoonist reported ever being arrested. a former editor at the Society magazine reported harassment from the Police. Newspaper and magazine editors also reported phone calls from leaders angered by cartoonists’ portrayals of them. One politician complained about his consistent portrayal as a gorilla and another called the proprietor of one of the largest circlation dailies to complain about the cartoonist’s constant portrayal of him as a suckling baby. 41 Drawing the Line . all top cartoonists reported receiving threatening phone calls. jailed or even sued due to a published cartoon. Following the publication of Madd’s caricature of President Moi in the 1990s.

Though it is difficult to establish a link between Kenyan cartoonists’ work and a particular political event.. Editorial censorship was cited as one of the greatest impediments to cartoonists’ work. it is clear that cartoons have greatly influenced public attitudes towards political leaders. p..Conclusions “The news media. Kenyan cartoonists see the focus of their art as regulating the behaviour of political leaders and have largely succeeded in their goal of “bringing them down to a level where they can be viewed as normal human beings who make mistakes!” The study also demonstrated that political leaders were aware of the power of cartoons and have either ameliorated their behaviour or resorted to threats in an effort to counter it.” Lerner (1974.are a major instrument of social change. The media’s justifiable fear of governmental or judicial backlash (justifiable if one takes 42 Drawing the Line . They make indispensable inputs to the psycho-political life of a transitional society via the minds and hearts of its people. 870) Editorial cartooning has traditionally served as a visual means of protest. This tradition has been carried forward by Kenyan cartoonists beginning with Terry Hirst in the 1970s right down to the present.

such as Gado and Madd. cartoons have served “as commentaries on political a synthesised rendition of the..” The public perceives cartoonists as fearless and objective. Cartoons were also shown to be an effective means of passing information as demonstrated by the fact that many respondents could still remember them (and the issues they raised) even after long periods of time. if humourous. 43 Drawing the Line .into account the KANU regime’s efforts to muzzle the press through legislative and judicial means. According to Levi Obonyo. who is doing a PhD dissertation on Kenyan cartooning . and a depiction of the socio economic condition of the society. may insulate them from accusations of ethnic bias. e. commentators on the behaviour of hitherto untouchable politicians. The study also demonstrated a high level of appreciation and demand for their work. Even their use of caricature is not seen as an attempt at personal ridicule. Their use of pennames. the 2002 Media Bill and the huge libel awards by the courts) coupled with the fact that they target largely the urban based middle class means that cartoonists are cut off from certain topics and audiences.g.. 44 Drawing the Line .O.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 Frank Odoi www. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 Daniel “Hyaena” Muli P.O.kenyatoons.gado.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Revlon Plaza P.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Box Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 www.kenyatoons. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 David “Mwalimu” Karogo Communicating Artists Ltd 3rd J. Nyaga P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 www.O.Directory of Local Cartoonists Arum Tidi P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 Association of East African Cartoonists (KATUNI) P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Box Nbi Tel: 0722-377653 Dupaul Kayuwa-mpoyi Godfrey “Gado” Mwampembwa P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 020-341715 gathara@kenyatoons.O.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 Celeste P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 David Kimutai Kimtum Gammz James “Kham” Khamawira Fozi P.

com 45 Drawing the Line .com Tuf Mulokwa www.maddworld. Box Kourier P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 maddo@maddworld.kenyatoons. Nbi Tel: 020-751515 Paul “Madd” Kelemba P.O. Box 13112-00100 Nbi Tel: 0722-834500 Raphael Kiptoo Kimosop Martin Khamalla Stanislus “Stano” Olonde P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons. Thika Tel: 0733-800652 John Mbugua Njathi P.John “KJ” Kiarie Victor Ndula Patrick Gathara www. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 maddo@maddworld. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 gathara@kenyatoons.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 tufmulokwa@yahoo.O. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 James Ayaga Midega John Paul Sagala P. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 Joshua Nanjero P.O.maddworld. Box 40658. Box 3613-00200 Nbi Tel: 0733-377653 keeponeking@yahoo.O.

46 Drawing the Line .

47 Drawing the Line .

Today. FRIEDRICH EBERT Drawing the Line 48 KATuNI Association of East African Cartoonists . The booklet was compiled by Patrick Gathara of the Association of East African Cartoonists (KATUNI) and funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES). Kenya hardly had any cartooning of significance. by storm. is indeed a work in progress. all the major newspapers in Kenya feature political and comic strips. cartoonists have taken the media. A generation ago. Little has been written on Kenyan journalism. and even less on cartooning. But in the last two decades.The history of cartooning in Kenya. This publication sets out this history and also explores the impact cartooning has had on the political development of the country. as it is elsewhere in Africa.