As the economic problems facing newspapers continue, it is easy to presume that cartoonists are sacked because of tight budgets. Money troubles shouldn’t give cover to publications that dump cartoonists because of politics, particularly when the politics involve corrupt governments strong-arming the press.
My cartoonist buddy, Gado, is probably the best known African cartoonist. He recently lost his job, according to a report in the Times of Africa. Here is a notable quotes from the article:
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”.