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He is the most famous cartoonist in Kenya, if not all of East Africa. But that incognito that Godfrey Mwampembwa, known as “Gado”, arrives in Carwash, where he has agreed. And the heated discussion he begins with this kind waitress next to the car wash, which is the latest fad in Nairobi, only concerns the level of preparation of his chicken soup.
The contradictions he catches in order to crush the local political series are much more mature. In Kenya, which is set to vote for its next president on August 9, Gaddafi fires his arrows with sharp humor. His drawings show Kenyan leaders as ring boxers or gangsters ready to win anything.
“The only question we ask ourselves in this election is what is the least evil. “Everyone will vote with a nod”The designer of Tanzanian origin, who has been installed in Kenya for three decades, released a deceptively absurd tone.
It must be said that the configuration of the ballot is not trivial. Historical opponent Raila Odinga has received the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party, which defeated her in 2013-2017; she was barred from running for a third term. His “challenge” – Vice President William Ruto, after hoping for the support of the head of state, was gradually marginalized by the unusual Kenyata-Odinga couple, but did not decide to leave the government.
In Gado language, this translates to a drawing in which two new allies aim their guns at William Ruto, who defends himself by targeting his rivals, hugging the outgoing president. “Who represents the real opposition?” Who can criticize the government’s case? “It’s as weird as it’s absurd.”pings the 52-year-old cartoonist who publishes in the newspaper Standard:one of the two largest dailies in the country, most of its sketches.
Many, but not all. Some are rejected because they are considered too shameful. Gado is sad, but almost not surprised. He then took to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where he was followed by hundreds of thousands of subscribers who appreciated his amusing, fierce pen, his ability to engage in everything from corruption to ethnic struggle, to the rise of religious extremism. through the country of China.
Six years ago, in 2016, his freedom of speech had already earned him the gratitude of the newspaper. Nation:, The largest daily newspaper in East Africa, with which he worked for a quarter of a century. The Kenyan government has irritated pictures of Uhuru Kenyatta և William Ruto, who were presented with cannons linked to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
“Freedom of speech is at stake in Kenya. “Politicians have infiltrated the media. They have many ways to buy or intimidate them.”, thinks Gado. Although it is guaranteed by the 2010 Constitution, respect for press freedom in the country is regularly attacked. According to Reporters Without Borders, many Kenyan media outlets are owned by politicians or government figures. Newsrooms are under strong pressure, while the process of providing state aid to the press is criticized for its opacity.
Nevertheless, “Kenya, of course, is still in a better position than many other countries on the continent.”, judges the animator with salt and pepper goat. Born in Dar es Salaam in 1969, the Tanzanian knows what he is talking about. Thirty years in Kenya, where he landed at the age of 23 after winning a painting competition, he can not imagine being able to work anywhere else in the region.
Moreover, it was in his native country that he was censored for the first time after the flattering caricature of former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikvete, which was published in early 2015 in the regional version of Tanzania. DailyNation:, East Africa. The newspaper Immediately banned from publishing in Tanzania, և the cartoonist asked to go on a long vacation.
“But what is the meaning in reality? »
His paintings continue to cause concern in neighboring countries. Because Godfrey Mwampembwa is still willing to attack their leaders, mocking their authoritarianism or their greed. Thus, Yoveri Mousseni, the unchanging president of Uganda and one of his beloved victims, appears with horns that symbolize his love and cruelty to cows. His son և future successor, General Muhozi Kainerugaba, wore a diaper on his uniform as a sign of his nickname. “Despot child”.
Despite the difficulties at work, Gado is happy to see it“Here, the real culture of press cartoons is developing in the whole region.”. Vitality, which can be seen in a recent exhibition in Nairobi by Cartooning for International Peace և’s own association, Buni Media.
Featured in the Alliance française building until June 19, before traveling to various schools and universities across the country, it honors several cartoonists from Kenya, such as Uganda, Madagascar, Cոտte d’Ivoire or Sudan, on the subject of democracy. ազատ freedom of expression.
At the inauguration in early May, Godfrey Mwampembu was awarded the Knight of the Order of Art and Literature by the French Embassy in Nairobi. An unexpected honor, according to him. “But, by the way, do you know what it is for?” »he asks, ingenious with his big glasses. A priorinothing that can disrupt the rhythm of this pencil bulimic who, two months before the presidential election, is constantly looking for inspiration everywhere, in the press, on the radio, interrogating taxi drivers, “Who knows how to give the earth’s temperature to no one”. When he was decorated, he says: “I was called to ask how it feels to be a knight. I replied that I was very happy, that now, first of all, like every day, I have to finish the painting “.