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 (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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