JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zapiro, an award-winning South African cartoonist, likes to stir things up, and he did that by putting words in Nelson Mandela‘s mouth.
Jonathan Shapiro, who signs “Zapiro” on his cartoons, said his newspaper editors grew edgy earlier this year when he submitted an image of an ailing Mandela in bed, holding hands with a forlorn nation — symbolized by a map of South Africa with a frowning face. It captured the angst of South Africans who revere the former president and peacemaker, and worry about a future without him, even though the 95-year-old is long retired and has been critically ill for months.
“I know it’s hard, but we have to start letting go … ” Mandela tells the nation in the cartoon.
Shapiro, 55, has made a career of stripping away taboos and artifice with satire. Sometimes he gets sued, most notably by President Jacob Zuma. The Mandela cartoon in April for The Times, a South African newspaper, was one of his gentler efforts and a commentary on a nation that showed promise on Mandela’s watch after the end of white rule in 1994 but grapples today with economic inequality, corruption and other ills.
“I think people are saying, ‘We have to move on from where we are at the moment because we’re not in a good place,'” Shapiro said last week at the annual dinner of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association.
Shapiro, who has worked for a variety of South African newspapers in the past two decades, pokes relentlessly at politicians, athletes, celebrities and institutions.
“When I get into those dark spaces and I think about some of the things that are happening, I’m afraid I just let rip,” he said in a summation of his work this year.
One of those spaces involved a Mozambican taxi driver who died after he was dragged from a South African police vehicle in February, depicted by Shapiro in a Sunday Times cartoon. “SA’s reputation,” reads a caption on the victim’s shirt.
South Africa often engages in a push-and-pull over its international image. Shapiro’s cartoon captured just how bad things sometimes look to the outside world. In contrast, Brand South Africa, a state-funded agency, seeks to build national pride and attract investment.
Shapiro has recently been criticized for a cartoon depicting the Hindu deity Ganesha as a wealthy symbol of Indian cricket, whose team embarks on a shortened tour of South Africa next month amid a row with South African cricket officials.
“This is a metaphor and it’s so obviously not an attack on Hinduism,” said Shapiro, who has not been sued for the image.
Commentator Kalim Rajab wrote on the Daily Maverick website that Shapiro’s choice of deity was unfortunate and that he expected Hindus to express their concern. But he described the cartoon as a legitimate social comment.
“Artists (and particularly satirists, which Zapiro is) are there to provoke, to push the boundaries, to ask the uncomfortable questions — because this is ultimately how we move forward as a society,” Rajab wrote.
In 2008, two years after Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape charges, Shapiro depicted him with his pants unzipped, preparing to rape a blindfolded, female figure of Lady Justice. Shapiro was commenting at the time on allegations Zuma was trying to intimidate legal authorities. Zuma became South Africa’s president in 2009 and later sued the cartoonist for alleged defamation, but dropped the case last year. In doing so, Zuma said freedom of expression must be balanced with the right to dignity and privacy.
Legal problems are not new to Shapiro, who was arrested and detained when his cartoons took on South Africa’s apartheid regime.
“I may seem flippant,” Shapiro said. “But underneath, I’m a fighter.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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