Art And Culture

Kenyan, Malaysian Win Cartoon Peace Prize

Kenyan, Malaysian Win Cartoon Peace PrizeKenyan, Malaysian Win Cartoon Peace Prize

Kenyan and Malaysian cartoonists Gado and Zunar have been awarded the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Prize.

The accolade, which rewards cartoonists for their talent and commitment to freedom of expression, was presented at a ceremony in Geneva by the honorary president of the Swiss Foundation, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

“I am always amazed at the creative wit of these artists who with a single image can capture the paradoxes and absurdity of injustice of a complex problem more effectively than a hundred speeches. Artists like Gado and Zunar are taking risks for speaking truth to power. They deserve all the recognition we can give them which hopefully can also contribute to their protection,” said Annan.

“It’s a great encouragement,” said Gado. “Because whatever you have been doing there are people who are behind you and there are people who recognize your efforts and that goes a long way in pushing you forward,” reported.

The two winners have often denounced government corruption and social injustice in their respective countries and have paid the price.

Gado, whose real name is Godfrey Mwam pembwa, was until recently the accredited cartoonist for the Nairobi-based newspaper, the Daily Nation, one of the most important newspapers in Central and East Africa. He also draws for the Tanzanian Daily News, Business Times Express, and for the Sunday Tribune in South Africa. His sketches depicting politicians as greedy and corrupt have won him a large public following but have also left him jobless.

“I think what we have seen in many African countries is the shrinking space of the media. This space is a contestant space and the challenge is always to protect that space,” he said.

Malaysia’s best-known press and comic strip cartoonist, Zunar uses humor and derision to talk about abuse of power and corruption. His work is no longer published in traditional media despite the international prizes he has received, including the 2015 Human Rights Watch and International Press Freedom awards.

The jury of the International Editorial Cartoons Prize is made up of the cartoonists Chappatte (Switzerland), Plantu (France) and Liza Donnelly (United States), as well as Kenneth Roth, Director of the NGOHuman Rights Watch and the Geneva magistrate Guillaume Barazzone.

Some one hundred cartoons by the laureates and other members of Cartooning for Peace are on display along the banks of Lake Genevauntil June 4. Topics range from the environment to security, with the plight of migrants topping the agenda.