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Kenyan Cartoonist Fired After Mocking President

Jan 28 16 Free Expression TodayC
A recent cartoon by Gado about freedom of expression in Kenya.

From Jerome Starkey at The Times:

One of Africa’s most famous cartoonists has been sacked by Kenya’s biggest media group as fears grow that the country’s press is caving in to government suppression of free speech.

Godfrey Mwampembwa, better known by his pen name, Gado, had mocked countless presidents — and won legions of fans — during his career at the Daily Nation, which started in 1992. Colleagues have called him “Africa’s most important cartoonist,” but his drawings earned him powerful enemies as well.

In 2009 President Kenyatta, then the finance minister, tried to sue Gado over a cartoon pillorying him for a $100 million accounting error. In 2005 Gado outraged Muslims with a drawing of a woman suicide bomber asking: “I’m also going to get the 72 virgins... right?!”.

Gado was persuaded by his bosses to take a sabbatical last year after the Nation’s sister paper, The EastAfrican, was banned in Tanzania over a cartoon mocking President Kikwete. When he tried to return to work, Tom Mshindi, the editor-in-chief, said his contract would not be renewed.

Mr Mshindi denied that the decision was a reflection on the freedom of the press, which he said was “no better or no worse” than under Kenya’s previous government.

Gado said Mr Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, had often put pressure on the paper’s management. “Freedom of the press is being rolled back and it’s dangerous,” he said. The Nation’s managing editor, Denis Galava, was sacked in January for an editorial attacking the government’s “almost criminal negligence”

Jonathan Shapiro, a South African cartoonist, said he feared the Nation’s owners were “kowtowing to pressure from the government”. He said: “Gado is the most important cartoonist in Africa. It’s appalling that after 23 years he has been shafted like that.”

Comments

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Hans-Ulrich Krause

Dear Gado,

Boniface from Pawa254 has referred me to you. As we are currently working on assembling a childrens book on human rights, I am trying to get in touch with Kenyan cartoonists / illustrators. Can you kindly help me with a few contacts?

Thanks, best regards


Uli (Hans-Ulrich) Krause

Peace Building Advisor
Civil Peace Service Kenya

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

c/o PeaceNet-Kenya
P.O. Box 938 - 10100 Nyeri

M +254 703 415793
E hans-ulrich.krause@giz.de
I www.giz.de
www.ziviler-friedensdienst.org/en

joseph oroni

this is an infringement to freedom of expression. the best messages are passed through huomour

Josee

The media house should be investigated.

So bad that he was fired.

The journalist opt to have expression of rights.

patrick

Yes good example lack respect to President

Mary

This is not good at all. No wonder i no longer see his cartoons in the newspaper.

Ben

Freedom of thought and expression should be encouraged not curtailed. I love Gados cartoons and am glad he has a website where he publishes his work. I follow him on twitter and Facebook. Great artist. Kenya has seen no other.

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