Nigerian Politics

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Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies

Volume: 2 – Issue: 3 – July - 2012

The Role of Humor in the Construction of Satire in Nigerian Political Cartoons

Sani, I., Abdullah, M.H., Ali, A.M. and Abdullah, F.S

Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communications,

University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia

Abstract

The communicative functions of humor and its visual power have made political

cartoons an interesting research field across academic disciplines. The first decade

of the Millennium has witnessed a considerable research on editorial cartoons. This

increasingresearchdemonstratesthateditorialcartoonshavesuccessfully

constituted a genuine genre within media discourse. Cartoons are used to express

opinions,| construct| valuable| arguments| and| provide| specific| knowledge on| contemporary| social| issues.| The goal| of| the| genre| is| to| provide political| commentary,| address| crucial| issues| and| criticize| political| leaders and| their| contemptible| practices| in an artful fashion. In a nutshell, the genre serves as a| medium| of| political| reporting articulating a particular message from a particular| point of| view using| language as| its| prime tool.| Given their| contents| mostly|

expressed through visual illustrations, political cartoons are best understood through

investigation of incorporated visual rhetoric. This paper| aims at unfolding the nature| and function of humor in Nigerian political cartoons| using theoretical perspectives|

of humor as method of analysis. To this end, content analysis was used to sort out

contentsof the cartoons. 35 cartoons texts were extracted from the two most

prominentNigerian newspapers namely: Vanguard and Daily Trust. The findings

indicatedthat cartoonists use humor in Nigerian political cartoons to relive

audiences of stressful situations and persuade them towards making opinion on contemporary issues in society. More specifically, Nigerian cartoonists manipulate

aggressive and affliative humor styles purposely to construct criticisms| pointed| to| political leaders and| comment on current socio-political issues of the| moment| in| order to initiate social and political reforms.| | |

Keywords: political| cartoons, visual rhetoric, humor, Millennium, media,| discourse, genre| | | |
| © Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies| 148| |

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies

Volume: 2 – Issue: 3 – July - 2012

Introduction| | | |
Political cartoons are an effective| means| for cartoonists to express their| thoughts| and ideas about the issues or events in| a particular period in a playful manner| (Becker, 1959). Basically the political| cartoons genre has gained considerable| research in academics considering| their potentials of expressing opinion| succinctly|

in such a way that thousand words cannot provide at a moment providing specific

knowledge on| current| events in| society (Peñamarin, 1998). Previous research| on| political cartoons has focused| on| their nature and functions. For instance, Streicher| (1965 as cited in (Benoit, Klyukovski, McHale, & Airne, 2001) explored| the| communicative| function| of| political cartoons; Morrison (1969) investigated| the|

unique features of political cartoons; Medhurst & DeSousa, (1981) focused on the

rhetorical form of political cartoons; Cahn| (1984) studied political cartoons as tools| for communications; (Bormann et al.,| 1978)...
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