Drawing the Line: History of Political Cartooning in Kenya

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  • Topic: Editorial cartoon, Editorial cartoonist, Comic strip
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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: kenia@fes.de and Association of East African Cartoonists(KATUNI) P.O. Box 3613-00200, Nairobi, Kenya. Email: katuni@kenyatoons.com (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


Drawing the Line


Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
Kenya Office


Drawing the Line


By P.L.O. Lumumba
Secretary, 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. This justifies the universal popularity of cartoons as the lingua franca of satire. Though cartooning as a medium of communication and expression is a relatively new phenomenon in Kenya, 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. Messages that cannot be conveyed in words for sensitivity, political correctness or prejudice are effectively communicated through cartoons. In a nutshell, 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. 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. 7 Drawing the Line


A Brief History of Political Cartoons
Knife-edged and salient, there is no simpler or more effective form of journalism than the editorial or political cartoon. The message – usually critical – is instantaneous, and often funny.

Political cartoons (from cartone, the Italian word for “pasteboard.”*) are for the most part composed of two elements: caricature, which parodies the individual, and allusion, 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, 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. Intended to be lighthearted satires, their caricaturas were, in essence, “counter-art”. * The Italian masters used pasteboard for rough drawings (cartoni), which were especially useful in preparing frescoes and tapestries. The word did not come to mean “an amusing sketch” until the 1840s when Prince Albert, who wanted to decorate the walls of the Drawing the Line new Houses of Parliament in London with frescoes, opened a competition for their design. The cartoons for the frescoes, some of them absurd in their attempts to appear heroic, were exhibited in 1843 and parodied shortly thereafter in the English magazine Punch, thus earning the word its present meaning.


The sketch of “A Captain of Pope Urban VIII” is representative of the...
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