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Zapiro launches his new book Dead President Walking at The Market Theatre

Dead President Walking

 
Jonathan Shapiro, the cartoonist popularly known as Zapiro, launched his new book, Dead President Walking, at the John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg recently.

 

The book could have been titled “Buy the Beloved Country” in reference to Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country and the alleged Gupta influence on national issues, Shapiro said.

But because the state capture report had been the biggest story of the year, with potential to ultimately topple Jacob Zuma, Shapiro had decided to focus on the president instead. And while the African National Congress (ANC) at times criticised itself, Shapiro said the party finds it difficult to deal with ridicule and differing opinions.

Shapiro produced a few giggles from the audience when he presented his most provocative cartoons, which he accompanied with sometimes cutting commentary.

Former president Thabo Mbeki was “Mr Paranoid”. His successor, Zuma, “Mr Complete Idiot”. University activist, Chumani Maxwele, “an interesting guy, but a bit psychotic”. Hlaudi Motsoeneng, now head of Corporate Affairs at the SABC “thinks he’s God”.

 

Another public figure to have been subjected to Shapiro’s ridicule is Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. While the pair have sorted out their differences, Shapiro believes Dikgang Moseneke, the former Deputy Chief Justice, would have made a better Chief Justice.

Asked whether he didn’t find his work hurtful to targets, invading their privacy, Shapiro said that because they are public figures, “I absolutely don’t care.”

 

Zuma has sued Shapiro in the past, but Shapiro stands by work – no matter how offensive. He did however single out a cartoon that “brought him grief”. The cartoon depicted Shaun Abrahams as a monkey and Zuma an organ grinder.

Black people had been offended and called him racist, he said. But people who subscribed to this view had selective memory, Shapiro insists, as his work has depicted and ridiculed those who stepped out of line regardless of race.

 

“The real racists are out there,” he said, adding that it was unfair to be compared to Penny Sparrow, a former estate agent who came under fire for describing black people as monkeys earlier in the year.

Themba Siwela, cartoonist with the Citizen newspaper, found nothing wrong with the cartoon. But Shapiro could have looked at the “timing” before publishing, Siwela believes.

Shapiro said cartoonists have an important role to play in any democracy, and that South Africa is one of the countries in the world that has made an impact with its cartoons.

“We put a lot of pressure on someone who is stepping out of line.”

 

Elections produce rich material for cartoonists, Shapiro said: “Local government elections are hot stuff.”

In one “hot” cartoon, Shapiro shows Motsoeneng approving good news footage and ignoring violent protests. But Shapiro condemns destructive protests, and believes it is counterproductive to burn things.

On last year’s statue demolitions, Shapiro said the statues had no right to be in prominent sites: “Why the hell should they be in our urban spaces?”

 

Zapiro also revealed his naughty side – a side his editors and lawyers have to put up with when dealing with him. “There’s a certain adrenaline fighting editors and lawyers,” he grinned.

Deadlines were a pain, he said, commenting that sometimes his cartoons would be late or just in time for publication.

Dead President Walking is Zuma’s 21st annual; “A remarkable feat for anyone to achieve,” Jacana, his publisher, said.

Book details

Die Groot Drie deur Francois Verster: Afrikaner-nasionalisme vanuit die perspektief van drie wêreldklas-satirici

Die Groot DrieDie Groot Drie: ’n Eeu van spotprente in Die Burger deur François Verster is nou beskikbaar by Penguin:

Die Groot Drie bied ’n sonderlinge blik op die opkoms, hoogbloei en uiteindelike ondergang van Afrikaner-nasionalisme vanuit die perspektief van drie wêreldklas-satirici: D.C. Boonzaier, T.O. Honiball en Fred Mouton.

Die Burger is in 1915 in die lewe geroep om as mondstuk te dien vir Afrikaners wat aan die begin van die 20ste eeu op hul knieë gedwing is deur die Anglo-Boereoorlog, verstedeliking en grootskaalse armoede. In die eerste honderd jaar van die koerant se bestaan het net dié drie kunstenaars diens gedoen as spotprenttekenaars. Boonzaier het skerp en raak aanvalle op opponente van die Nasionale Party geloods, en die karikatuurkuns ten volle bemeester; die veelsydige Honiball het lesers se empatie gewek met sy speelse styl; en Mouton se uitbeelding van tipies Suid-Afrikaanse tonele het van hom ’n gewilde humorskepper en belangrike meningsvormer gemaak.

In hierdie boek gee Verster, Naspers se maatskappy-argivaris, ’n onderhoudende historiese oorsig van die bydrae wat elk van dié spotprenttekenaars gelewer het.

Oor die outeur

Dr. François Verster het vir 17 jaar as staatsargivaris gewerk en het in 2007 by Naspers as maatskappy-argivaris en geskiedskrywer aangesluit. Hy het drie romans en sy memoires gepubliseer, en nie-fiksiewerke insluitend Van Kaspaas tot Kaas, die lewe en werk van T.O. Honiball. Hy is die skrywer van talle artikels oor spotprente en strokieskuns vir beide vakkundige en populêre publikasies. Hy werk ook as vryskut-joernalis en is veral bekend om sy rubriek “Geskiedenis vandag” in die streekskoerant Bolander.

Boekbesonderhede

Nostalgies, humoristies en hartroerend: Wat die hart van vol is deur Peter Veldsman en Elmari Rautenbach

Wat die hart van vol isWat die hart van vol is: Herinneringsreise van ‘n fynkok deur Peter Veldsman, met Elmari Rautenbach, is nou beskikbaar by Penguin:

’n Wydlopende herinneringsreis, deurspek met staaltjies, deur een van ons land se fynkospioniers …

Met erfeniskos wat deesdae internasionaal hoogmode is, staan een kok uit: Peter Veldsman. As enigste kind op ’n plaas in die Klein-Karoo het Peter ’n fyn waarnemingsvermoë en goddelose sin vir humor ontwikkel. Die resultaat is eindeloos vermaaklike stories oor die kos en mense in sy lewe, van sy dae as kosredakteur van die tydskrif Sarie, waar Peter twee generasies Afrikaanse vroue voor die stoof touwys gemaak het, toe as kosskrywer van Rapport en, uiteindelik, as “Mister V”, eienaar van Emily’s, waar hy hom amper 20 jaar lank beywer het om van streekskos fynkos te maak en só ’n formidabele restaurant-nalatenskap gevestig het.

Baie van die stories is snaaks. Ander is soet-nostalgies. Sommige kyk eerlik na kwessies ná aan sy hart, soos gay-wees en die kerk. En tog, al het hy al vir bekendes en selfs beroemdes gekook en die wêreld deurkruis op soek na nuwe smake, is dit sy tante Julia en haar “koskys” wat hy steeds die helderste voor die oog roep, sy Skotse ouma, en die dag toe hy as ’n vierjarige op sy oupa se plaas in die Klein-Karoo die eerste keer ’n doukomkommer tussen sy tande geknars het …

Nostalgies, humoristies en hartroerend – ’n boek wat jou terugvat na Ouma se kombuis, maar dan ook die drumpel oor, na die wye wêreld daarbuite.

Boekbesonderhede

'I feel angst and self-doubt' - Zapiro chats about his glittering career and why it's not easy being a cartoonist

Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, is a brilliant cartoonist but he’s often racked by self-doubt, writes Claire Keeton for the Sunday Times

Zapiro

 
Dead President WalkingLife as South Africa’s most celebrated and controversial political cartoonist isn’t all deadlines and stress, even though Zapiro’s anxiety levels after years in the game seem similar to stand-up comedians and pilots.

One of the highlights for Jonathan Shapiro, known as Zapiro, came out of the blue when he got a call on Christmas Day in 2001.

It was the agent of jazz singer and actor Harry Belafonte. Belafonte said he would like to meet Shapiro. A Belafonte fan, Shapiro said that it would be fantastic.

“He walked through the gate in a huge fur coat in the middle of summer and gave me a massive bear hug, then we sat in my studio and started talking,” Shapiro remembers.

“He said to me: ‘I have a confession to make. I was expecting a black man. God has a sense of humour.’”

Belafonte, who had been attending a world conference against racism in Durban and had seen Shapiro’s cartoons, assumed the cartoonist was a black South African from the way he “tapped into” society.

Shapiro’s progressive upbringing and experiences as an activist with the United Democratic Front in the 1980s – we were together in the South African Youth Congress and on the UDF coordinating committee in Cape Town – sharpened his commitment to fight institutionalised racism and oppression.

And his sense of outrage at injustice has not diminished.

Shapiro is brilliant but not infallible. He’s a battle-weary warrior for the constitution who has on rare occasions fallen out of step with the public whose rights he defends.

“I feel angst and self-doubt. I’m second-guessing myself all the time. I wonder if I’m becoming more reactionary. Have I changed, or has the politics changed? It’s my sense that it’s the politics I’m trying to interrogate.”

‘I feel angst and self-doubt’ – Zapiro chats about his glittering career and why it’s not easy being a cartoonist

 
While Nelson Mandela praised his creations as “accurate and very exciting”, President Jacob Zuma, with his Zapiro-anointed showerhead, is not a fan.

Zuma has sued him twice, for the maiden showerhead cartoon in 2006 and for the controversial Lady Justice cartoon, which appeared in 2008. Both cases were dropped.

“That [Lady Justice] cartoon has a life of its own. It was selected as one of the 15 cartoons that changed the world, at number 15, along with cartoons by heavy-hitters from around the world, and by the American student cartooning world,” he said.

The launch of Shapiro’s 21st book, Dead President Walking, once again exposes the ways in which Zuma is failing South Africa’s democracy. It also provides an incisive and uncensored view on major political developments in the past year.

Not surprisingly, former public protector Thuli Madonsela endorses the collection on the back of the book with the comment:

I don’t always agree with Zapiro’s cartoons, but his wit, brilliance and relevance can’t be ignored.

It’s not easy being a cartoonist, and Shapiro spends hours conceptualising his works before putting pen to paper.

The process usually kicks off after too little sleep and too much coffee, with him “taking his news intravenously”, as a friend put it when he saw Shapiro at dawn with a radio the size of a lighter glued to his ear.

“My Sony radio is my lifeline,” says Shapiro, who listens to news for hours over breakfast, during the school run and throughout the day.

By early afternoon he hopes to have a rough drawing for the next day, but that can be a “little euphemistic”, he admits.

For about a decade he produced six editorial cartoons a week, taking off only Saturday afternoons and evenings, but he now does only four a week.

This allows him more time to do talks and walk trails with his family, and ahead of the Cape Town Cycle Tour he gets in last-minute training for the race he has ridden nine times.

Madiba Planet

 
Shapiro started his career as an editorial cartoonist in 1987 for the alternative newspaper South before taking up a Fulbright scholarship to study media arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

“In South Africa we had unity and they had diversity, issues I hadn’t even thought of,” he says of his exposure to social activism there.

Another defining moment of his life in New York was marrying Karina Turok, his wife of 28 years with whom he has a son of 21 and a daughter of 16.

When the couple had been together for four years they decided to leave to study in the United States, but his mother asked him to wait and have a wedding at home.

He assured her they would, but after a month of facing visa complications, they were married in the city hall in Harlem, after which they went to the top of the World Trade Center to celebrate.

One of their favourite activities then was playing ultimate frisbee in Central Park, taking part in one of the world’s long-running games (where I joined them while studying there).

“We got addicted, and my wife and I like to believe we were among the first who brought the game here and played it for years,” said Shapiro, who played it on Camps Bay beach.

When he returned to South Africa, he had a change of pace and for three years he drew educational comics on the themes of HIV/Aids awareness and preventing child abuse.

Even though he joined the ANC, he became more of an observer than activist and he drew the main voter education poster in 1994.

Zapiro - freestyle cartooning!

 
In the same year he was invited to draw for the Mail & Guardian.

In 1998 he started contributing to the Sunday Times, which has also proved an enduring relationship, and in 2009 he became regular cartoonist in The Times.

He also contributed to a satirical puppet show for TV and has since sculpted caricatured figurines of politicians.

Shapiro has won a host of international awards. This year he won the annual EWK-Prize by the EWK-Society, based in Norrköping, Sweden.

He has exhibited all over the world, from the US and Australia to Cameroon and Germany.

Through his cartooning he has met celebrities and artists he admires, attending the World Economic Forum as part of a group of creatives.

“I have come in contact with fascinating people, people who are my heroes like Joan Armatrading, Youssou N’dour, Peter Gabriel, Richard Gere and Nadine Gordimer,” Shapiro says. “I had to pinch myself.”

In the post-Trump-as-president world he’s not the only one pinching himself, but in South Africa at least we have Zapiro’s unique take on out-of-control presidents to keep us alert.

‘I feel angst and self-doubt’ – Zapiro chats about his glittering career and why it’s not easy being a cartoonist

 
Book details

Jay McInerney: darkness falls over South Africa

For a hip New Yorker, Jay McInerney has a surprisingly red-neck view of our  beloved country.  McInerney comes to South Africa next week to promote his latest book, Bright, Precious Days, in which we get a bit part. One of its characters, Luke McGavock, acquires a wine farm and a game farm in South Africa as part of a private equity deal.   Says Luke: “I loved the idea of Africa. And I loved the reality too. Its primal, cradle-of-life, origin-of-the-species aliveness.  The smells, not just the fertile dung smell of the veldt; even the wood smoke, seared meat and raw sewage smell of the townships.”

But it soon all turns to shit.

“…late night farm invasions had become increasingly common to the north, armed gangs breaking in and murdering white families, with the tacit approval of the ANC, which advocated the redistribution of land and sent out periodic calls for ‘colonialists’ to abandon their farms. Rape, torture and mutilation were common features of these attacks, which usually began with the intruders cutting phone and power lines…”   Really?

Luke is portrayed as “a good man, a generous soul”, who builds clinics and schools in the townships. But the natives don’t deserve him.

He decides to pack it in in South Africa after being badly injured in a car accident. “I was in the car alone, coming home from Cape Town one night. I got hit by a van that crossed the line into my lane. The driver drunk, of course. He died, along with his passenger. Not my fault at all apparently….. that didn’t keep it from getting ugly. White survivor, two dead black men.” Really?

In McInerney’s version of it, South Africa has just two sides: primal idyll for jaded sophisticates or savage and lawless jungle.

His writing purports to authenticity with much real-life detail: the farm is in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Eskom is identified as being responsible for an erratic power supply.

The narrative this celebrated author conveys is influential.  It’s unfortunate that the one he presents is so ignorant.

To be fair, the South African strand is a very small part of a big and ambitious book and McInerney’s rendering of his main subject, New York’s literary and financial elite, is wonderfully subtle and acute. I’ve loved his earlier books. And Bright, Precious Days is a great read when McInerney sticks to what he knows. But brightness falls on Manhattan and South Africa remains dark.

I hope that when McInerney comes to Cape Town next week – he is speaking at the Book Lounge – he takes the time to discover that South Africa is every bit as richly complex and nuanced.

McGregor is author of Khabzela; and co-editor At Risk and Load-shedding: Writing on and over the Edge of South Africa (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

 

 

 

 

The new Madam and Eve has landed

Madam and EveJacana Media is proud to present the new Madam and Eve collection: Take Me to Your Leader, by Stephen Francis and Rico:

This year we are in for a treat, with Madam & Eve back with more cartoons looking at domestic life and politics in the New South Africa.

It is hard to believe the Anderson family and their domestic sidekick, Eve, have been part of our daily landscape for 23 years. Dip into these cartoons for a much-needed chuckle.

Madam & Eve cartoons appear regularly in the Mail & Guardian, The Star, The Saturday Star, Herald, Mercury, Witness, Daily Dispatch, Cape Times, Pretoria News, Diamond Fields Advertiser, Die Volksblad, EC Today, Kokstad Advertiser and The Namibian.

I am always amazed by the energy and passion displayed by this writing-and-drawing duo that manages week after week to come up with fresh comedic ideas on which to make their point and build their powerful punchline.

- Business Day

About the authors

Stephen Francis is the writing half of the Madam & Eve team. Born in the United States in 1949, Stephen moved to South Africa in 1988. In 1992, witnessing the interesting and often funny dynamic between his South African mother-in-law and her domestic housekeeper, he conceptualised the Madam & Eve strip. Stephen Francis is also an award-winning script writer, and radio and TV personality.

Rico forms the other half of the creative team – as illustrator. Born in Austria in 1966, he now lives and works in Johannesburg, and has been drawing cartoons ever since he was old enough to hold a pencil. Besides his work on Madam & Eve, Rico also produces illustrations for a wide range of other publications.

Book details