100 World Class South Africans: Zapiro

2013-06-26 12:00

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Seriously funny

For over 30 years, Zapiro cartoons have subtly – and not so subtly – undercut the big-headed, the wrong and the ridiculous.

So critical can his satire be that he was jailed by the apartheid regime, sued by the current president of South Africa, and has upset both Zionists and Muslims.

Timeless, on the money and brilliantly funny. Very nice.

But we shouldn’t forget that in the un-nice context of injustice, corruption, prejudice and big egos, what Jonathan Shapiro (aka Zapiro) is doing is also very dangerous and brave.

He’s published 17 books, held exhibitions from New York to Europe to Dhaka, received numerous awards – including the 2005 Prince Claus Principal Award and 2012 IPA Freedom to Publish prize – and been editorial cartoonist for the Mail & Guardian since 1994, the Sunday Times since 1998 and The Times since 2009 – as well as contributing to every other major local newspaper at one time or another.

That’s over 200 cartoons a year. SA’s other veteran satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys, once said it is a ‘democratic right to cross a line of opinion’.

From Jacob Zuma in his undies in front of a Gupta mirror, asking, ‘Who’s the fairest of us all?’ to Mamphela Ramphele dressed as Dorothy while her Oz cohorts ask, ‘Who stole the yellow bricks?’, Zapiro keeps his democratic lines hysterically crossed.

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