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Zapiro Discusses His Favourite Cartoons (And One He Regrets) at the Launch of Rhodes Rage


ZapiroRhodes RageJonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, recently launched his 2015 annual, Rhodes Rage, at St Mary’s School in Waverley, Johannesburg. The artist took the audience on a visual tour of his best cartoons (and one from the archives that he regrets) and the thought processes behind them.

“Every year I do these books I look for a cover and a title that really says something,” Zapiro said in his introduction, explaining how the #RhodesMustFall movement created a domino effect of civil uprising throughout the year “that has come back in event sharper focus as the year ends”.

Rhodes Rage contains a selection of political cartoons published between September 2014 and September 2015 in the Sunday Times, The Times and the Mail & Guardian. Zapiro asked: “Where were we in September 2014? Where are we now?”

Bogus Eventualis:

Zapiro started the discussion with his depiction of the destruction of Lady Justice by Oscar Pistorius, Jub Jub and Shrien Dewani. “One of the nicest things that happens as a cartoonist is that people send you ideas,” Zapiro said of the cartoon showing Pistorius leaving his electronic tag at home:

One of the big themes of the year in Zapiro’s work and in common discourse was loadshedding. Zapiro gave voice to the energy crisis by showing how Father Christmas won’t be able to find South Africa, as well as playing with the cartoon medium to show how the artist adapts to the situation:

2015 State of the Nation:
“No one could have prepared for what happened,” Zapiro said of the 2015 State of the Nation Address, which was riddled with calamities, from signals being jammed to members of the Economic Freedom Fighters being removed by men in white shirts.

The most haunting, however, was President Jacob Zuma’s laugh despite everything that was happening. “This cartoon is a summation of where we were after words,” Zapiro said of his depiction of Zuma as the “Hollow Man”:


“It started with a bucket of poo,” Zapiro said of the campaign that took place earlier this year to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the University of Cape Town campus.

People expected him to take a position, Zapiro explained. “I don’t particularly like buckets of poo but I liked the statue less,” he said. “I want to see these statues moved from the centres of universities and from the hearts of universities. I don’t want to see them destroyed but moved from the centre.”

Responding to the rustle in the audience, Zapiro continued: “I can tell that some of you won’t agree with me – you’ll like one cartoon I do and hate the other – that’s what being a satirist is about.”
“Everyone’s a foreigner at some point,” Zapiro said in response to the scourge of xenophobic attacks that once again shook the country this year. He depicted King Goodwill Zwelithini’s inflammatory rhetoric in the following image:

“The cartoons can be funny, outrageous, whatever works to communicate something,” Zapiro said. Against the backdrop of xenophobia, the satirist commented on the absurdity of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s “Migrant Awards” for “people who were coming from elsewhere” and doing good things. “That kind of thing freaks me out,” he said:

Zapiro’s cartoons comment on, among others, Omar al-Bashir’s controversial visit to South Africa, the Presidency’s uncomfortable relationship with the Gupta family and the ANC Women’s League’s unnerving response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. He also commented on the good news, such as Trevor Noah’s international debut as the host of the Daily Show and the discovery of Homo naledi.

“Often what you do with a cartoon is take something someone said and throw it back at them,” Zapiro said, explaining how satirists expose hypocrisy.

The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session.

“Of all the drawings I’ve done of Zuma there is only one that I regret,” Zapiro said in response to a question about his depiction of the president, “and it’s not the rape scene,” he added. The drawing in question appeared in the Mail & Guardian in 2012 and shows Zuma looking at himself in the mirror and seeing a penis. Zapiro explained that his best supporters and he himself felt that he had gone too far.

Zapiro was, however, unapologetic about his criticism of Zuma. “I drew PW Botha exactly as I draw Jacob Zuma,” Zapiro said, in reference to a 1989 drawing of Botha as the naked emperor, which he had to fight to get published in the newspapers.

Zapiro recalled an incident when the apartheid police once asked him, “Why do you draw us as pigs?” to which he replied, “I draw what I see.”


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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) tweeted highlights from the launch using #livebooks:



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