Sixteen Zaps and a narrow escape

Here’s a stack of history you’ll be envious of if you’re a Zapiro fan. Many of these are now out of print.

But there’s a new one. So, phew! You can still start your collection if you’re just cottoning on to the Zapiro-adulation-slash-vilification madness.

Zapiro, South Africa’s best-known cartoonist, probably mostly because he seems always to be in trouble with President Jacob Zuma, has – not unexpectedly – festooned his jolly new collection of editorial cartoons with a mock copy of the now world-famous Brett Murray picture of the president with his pants down.

The painting, called Spear of the Nation sent a lightning bolt along the uncomfortably shared South African ground and divided the country right down the middle of its struggling self.

On one side were the dignity-indignant frothers, angry as a sack of snakes over the insult to the president. On the other side were the freedom-of-speechers who rhythmically, but apparently to no avail, beat the drum of “I may not like what you have to say – or paint – but I will defend to the death your right to say – and paint – it.”

Checking to see if it will stand up in my house.

Brett Murray and Jonathan Shapiro (the man behind the Zapiro name) have known each other for a long time and were this year thrown together by a common enemy as both men were being sued by President Zuma.

Shapiro because, said Zuma, “He is invading my dignity” after the Lady Justice cartoon came to print in 2008. Murray because, well, because, I suppose he too was perceived to have invaded Zuma’s dignity by painting him with the family jewels dangling from his flies.

The charges against Shapiro were withdrawn late in October this year, just as the case was about to go to court.

Now the Zapiro collection number 17 is in the shops. The first one appeared in 1996 – a happy one with a dancing Nelson Mandela on its cover. The latest one has showerhead Zuma depicted in a painting three wine-swilling people are looking at, their heads strategically covering the offended spear. As usual, it is a quick reference river ride down major South African and world political events of this past year.

It’s the kind of river ride where you gasp and gulp and giggle nervously.




Posted under: Indiscriminate Devotion

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