Hustling day in Silicon Savannah

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'Silicon Valley rocks!' says one of the characters of our story. Well, not for everybody.

With over 56 fintech firms and around eight digital taxi platforms, Kenya’s digital ecosystem is breeding local entrepreneurs and luring foreign investors. Yet, the hype conceals a more nuanced picture. Some people have found a way to use digital technologies to their advantage; others feel betrayed by digital platforms that promised them better pay and more freedom.

Check out the comic below to find out more.

The story is by Gianluca Iazzolino and Michael Kimani and the artwork by Maddo. This cartoon is made in partnership with  the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, LSE, and has been funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund, grant DIDA EP/T030127/1. You can download the comic as a PDF here.

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Trailer: Hustling day in Silicon Savannah

This Wednesday we'll publish our latest comics journalism project, which is another collaboration with the London School of Economic and Political Science. With over 56 fintech firms and around eight digital taxi platforms, Kenya’s digital ecosystem is breeding local entrepreneurs and luring foreign investors. Yet, the hype conceals a more nuanced picture. Some people have found a way to use digital technologies to their advantage; others feel betrayed by digital platforms that promised them better pay and more freedom.

The story is by Gianluca Iazzolino and Michael Kimani and the artwork by Maddo. Check out the trailer we've made for the project here below and be sure to read the comic on Wednesday!

 

 


The future of farming in Kenya

This comic was made together with the London School of Economics and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The story features young and old farmers in Kenya, representatives of old organizations that used to manage agriculture, and a (fictional) start-up that tries to convince farmers to adopt new technology to move farming into the future. The comic gives an overview of the benefits, but also the dangers, of using new technology.

Explaining some of the terms in the comic:

Extension officers: the old organizations in this comic are represented by extension officers. Officials employed by (local) government to help farmers improve their way of working.

Middle men: many Kenyan farmers rely on middle men to get their surplus produce to market, and to get credit to purchase seeds and equipment.

The comic was drawn by renowned Kenyan artist Maddo and written by Laura Mann, Gianluca Iazzolino, Hellen Mukiri-Smith and Marion Ouma. You can download the PDF here.

 

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Review: Power Born of Dreams

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Power Born of Dreams – My Story is Palestine
Street Noise Books
118 pages
$15,95

Some of you may remember that Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh was arrested by Israel authorities in 2013. He spent five months in jail for 'contact with a hostile organization'. Many suspect his sentence was because of his work as a critical cartoonist.

At the time, we ran a cartoon campaign to spread the word about his wrongful imprisonment. This year, Mohammad has released a graphic novel about his experiences in jail. Or, perhaps more accurately, he uses his time in jail as a red thread to tell stories about Palestinian people and the lives they lead.

The story starts with Mohammad in jail, recounting the interrogations, the boredom and the isolation. The first sentence of the book is a quote by a fellow prisoner: 'When you're in prison, your whole world is made of steel'. How do you get through the day when your world is no larger than a prison cell? Mohammad manages to smuggle a pen and some paper into his cell, to draw about his experiences and drive the boredom away.

 

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During his time in prison, Mohammad befriends a talking bird. At least, in the book; I suspect talking animals were not a part of his real prison experience. But this invented element allows him to introduce dialogue into the story. Birds are also the universal symbol for freedom, and using a bird as his conversation partner is a clever way to juxtapose his imprisonment with his dreams of freedom. Moreover, the bird plays a crucial element in the structure of the narrative.

Mohammad and the bird strike a deal; the bird will fly out, using freedom to visit the Palestian people and hear their stories. He will tell Mohammad these stories, and Mohammad will use his drawing skills to record them. In this way, we hear stories from a pregnant couple in Jerusalem trying to reach the hospital to give birth, children living in Gaza, and a teacher in the West Bank whose student was shot by Israeli troops. They are all stories of oppression and imprisonment of one form or another.

 

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These stories deserve to be told, but it is that way Sabaaneh tells them that takes them to a new level. He did not draw his graphic novel, but instead carved every single line, using linocut printing. This results in images that are presented in a stark black and white, giving the work a dramitic quality that works really well with Sabaaneh's angular style that is at times reminiscent of social realism. This style also fits with the activist story that Sabaaneh is trying to tell, protesting against the presence and policies of Israel. Here below is a video where you can the Sabaaneh at work creating some of the pages:

 

 

This is a book that deserves a broad international audience. Sabaaneh condemns how Israel treats Palestinians by telling the stories of ordinary Palestinians and by telling his own story. And these stories prove to be a very effective form of resistance. You can order Power Born of Dreams on Amazon (of course), but you can also support your local book store and try to order your copy through them.

Tjeerd Royaards
Cartoon Movement editor


Fighting agrocolonialism in the Congo

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Our latest comics journalism project is a cooperation with the University of Sussex and the University of Sheffield.

The comic is based on field research conducted around the Feronia palm oil plantation in Tshopo province in north-east DR Congo as part of a British-Academy funded project on “environmental defenders and atmospheres of violence” (SDP2/100278) hosted by the University of Sussex. The research was carried out by researchers from the Université Catholique du Graben, the University of Sheffield and the Organisation Congolaise des Ecologistes et Amis de la Nature (OCEAN).

The story focuses on people living next to the Feronia concession and how they experience and fight against the company. While the names in the comic are fictional, the described events are based on testimonies we gathered during our field research. This includes accounts of repression and heavy-handed responses by the security services, which highlight the dangers faced by those defending their land, their livelihoods and the environment.

You can download the PDF here.

 

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Tents beyond tents: Haiti earthquake comic from 2011

In 2011, the Cartoon Movement team spent a month on Haiti to work with Haitian comic artists and journalists to document life in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Now, 10 year later, Haiti is again struck by a large earthquake, while the county has yet to recover from the last one. This comic is still sadly relevant:

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Peace and politics in South Sudan

In partnership with the Centre of Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), we produced a series of six comics on public authority in different countries across Africa.

This comic, based on research by Dr Naomi Pendle and drawn by South Sudanese comic artist Tom Dai, looks at the peace process and the role of the army in South Sudan between 2005 and 2020.

You can read the full comic below or download the PDF here.

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