South Africa: Cartoons for Social Justice – Drawing Society Together By Reaching Out to the Unconverted

In these times of personality cults, cartoons that seek to tackle the issues rather than the person might be more persuasive in their cause. Such cartoons are harder to construct, as any cartoonist will tell you. Without the derision of a useful idiot to make one’s point, the cartoon must target the underpinning issues of oppression, racism, corruption and abuse rather than the oppressor, racist, corruptor or rapist.

Editorial cartoons have long held those in power to account, knocking kings and dictators (if not literally, then at least figuratively) off their pedestals and — in most cases — speaking up for the little guy; giving voice to the voiceless while reminding them and those who rule over them that no one person, institution or ideology is beyond reproach or ridicule.

It’s commonly held that this tradition was founded among the court jesters of England and Europe, whose purpose and privilege it was to mock the king without fear of being beheaded.

The craft was brought to South Africa with colonialism. Cartoons featured in our earliest newspapers, with Afrikaans cartoonist DC Boonzaier often regarded as the grandfather of South African cartooning, ironically having established his reputation in the first half of…


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