Vigilantes: security or insecurity?

This comic was produced for the Centre of Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). It was supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Economic Social and Research Council (ESRC).

The story focuses on a fictional town in Uganda, but is based on real events; what happens when a town tries to fight crime using vigilantes?

The narrative is based on research by Rebecca Tapscott. The artwork is by Kenyan cartoonist and comic artist Victor Ndula.

This summer we relaunched our website; the new comics journalism section is currently being developed and will be online later this fall. That's why we are publishing this comic on our blog first. Read the comic below or download the PDF version here.

This comic is part of a series of six comics on public authority in different countries in Africa. Other installments:

Making ends meet around Virunga









Locked in Kashmir


CRNI has posted a comics journalism piece by cartoonist Suhail Naqshbandi to mark the first anniversary of the repeal of Article 370, India’s suspension of the Jammu & Kashmir region’s autonomous status and the subsequent degradation of civil liberty, including one of the world’s longest internet shutdowns.

We recommend you read this essay by Suhail first, describing his experiences prior to the repeal of Article 370. The you can read the full comic here.

Work in progress: comics journalism about public authority in Africa

One of the projects we're currently working on is a series of comics on public authority in Africa, commissioned by the Africa Centre of the London School of Economics. The comics are based on field research in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone and South Sudan. We are currently in the storyboarding phase, where the artists have made rough drafts of the story to get a feel for the story flow and the visuals.

We try to make the comics as authentic as possible, working close with the researchers (who know the subject matter intimately), using a lot of reference photographs, and trying to incorporate as much of actual dialogue from the field research as we can. Although at first glance the topic of public authority can seem a bit dry, the stories we are trying to tell are fascinating.

One narrative is about vigilante justice in Uganda. A village is plagued by crime and has no funds to set up a police presence; the local council enlist a group of youths to patrol the streets and things go downhill from there...

Vigilate justice- sotyboardStoryboard fragment of 'Vigilantes: security or insecurity?' - Story by Rebecca Tapscott, art by Victor Ndula

Another narrative takes place in Palabek Refugee Settlement, also in Uganda. Here, a woman is accused of witchcraft. The authorities in the camp fail to take adequate action; violence ensues as the community feels they have to take matters into their own hands.

Poisoning in Palabek - storyboard

Storyboard fragment of 'A poisoning in Palabek' - Story by Ryan Joseph O'Byrne, art by Charity Atukunda

Other narratives that are currently worked on deal with the formal and informal economy in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis and the precarious situation of people living next to Virunga National Park in DRC. The full series will be six comics of eight pages each, which will be published on Cartoon Movement later this year and early next year.

Comics Journalism - Migration from Ethiopia

Together with the University of Sussex and the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium, we have created a 4-page comic about irregular migration from Ethiopia to South Africa. The Ethiopian government has outlawed many kinds of migrant smugglers and brokers and their businesses have gone underground. There is now a large migration industry of smugglers, informal brokers and other actors who help migrants navigate border controls.


The research on which this comic is based sought to understand the social relations that underpin brokerage and the implications of clandestine migration for the welfare of the migrants themselves as well as their families. The relationships between migrants and those who mediate migration are complex with the power shifting between the migrant and broker at different points of the journey. The research shows how the system operates and why it continues despite the controls.

The comic, drawn by Kenyan artist Maddo, will be published on Cartoon Movement on October 9. Two other comics exploring irregular migration are currently being produced and will be published later this year.

Comics Journalism - Stories from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo

This month we’ll be publishing two comics we have produced for The Politics of Return, a research project of the London School of Economics exploring the dynamics of return and reintegration of refugees in Central and Eastern Africa.

We have already published two comics earlier this year: Uganda's Forgotten Children, by Charity Atukunda and Displacement and Return in the Central African Republic, by Didier Kassai. Uganda's Forgotten Children focuses on the 30,000 children that were abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). What became of them when they returned to society? Displacement and Return in CAR is about the people (mainly Muslims) that fled the conflict. Now that the violence has ended, can they return and find a place in society?

In September we'll be publishing two further instalments in this series.

The first one, He Cannot Marry Her by Tom Dai and Naomi Pendle, is about marriage and identity in Both Sudan. By deciding who can marry who (and thus have children), chiefs' courts have a huge influence on identity politics in South Sudan, where even the dead can marry and have children.

Tom Dai

The second one, Between Two Spaces by Victor Ndula and Koen Vlassenrroot, shows why disarming combatants in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been less than successful.

Victor Ndula

He Cannot Marry Her will be published on September 10 and Between Two Spaces will be published on September 17.

Cartoon Art Project


In March, four of our cartoonists (Hajo, Spiros Derveniotis, Osama Hajjaj & Tjeerd Royaards) collaborated on an art project for the new headquarters of vfonds, a Dutch NGO with a focus on peace, freedom, democracy and international law. Together, they created 72 cartoons telling the story of the Second World War, the reconstruction of Europe (and the Netherlands in particular), the Cold War and the construction of an international order, and the rise of freedom and democracy in Europe (and the world).

The 72 cartoons are printed on the front and back of 36 panels that are hung vertically from the ceiling, creating a narrative that you can walk under.


Throughout the panels, a 'V' shape is visible, v being the first letter of the Dutch word for peace (vrede) and freedom (vrijheid). The panels in red tell the story of war, conflict and the price of peace. The panels in blue show how peace leads to prosperity and freedom.


Here is and overview of all the panels. Click on the image for a larger version:


All images © Cartoon Movement/Hajo/Sprios Derveniotis/Osama Hajjaj/Tjeerd Royaards. Use of these images is only allowed after the written consent of Cartoon Movement.