THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CARTOONS OF MOOYIWA ADETULA AND AKILA JIBRIN IN NATIONAL DAILIES OF NIGERIA 2007-2014
Cartoon is a visual art that complements news media in artistic form. It has not been given much attention in the Nigerian newspapers. Probably because people do not seem to understand the messages the cartoonists try to pass across to the public. Many of the reading public just laugh over the caricatures that contain mostly distorted, exaggerated and funny figures of characters displayed, without contemplating the content. Since the reading public do not seem to understand the messages of cartoons, the study attempts to describe, analyse and interpret the works of two selected cartoonists, Mooyiwa Adetula of The Nation and Akila Jibrin of Daily Trust newspapers. The work of these cartoonists have not received scholarly attention, hence the need to study and document their work on socio-political issues in Nigeria from 2007 to 2014 for academic and historical purpose. The study adopted conceptual and theoretical framework. Conceptual framework was adopted from Sander in Jari (2007) who posits that, researches that are historical in nature should adopt qualitative method, especially if the analysis of the data collected would feature descriptive discussion and interpretation. This concept provides an analytical base for describing and interpreting the two cartoonists‟ works. MacHovec in Sani et al (2012) explains various theoretical perspectives of humour and its functions. These are Superiority, Relief and Incongruity theories. Superiority theory is adopted and is mainly concerned with self assertion. The relationship explains how things appear funny naturally. People laugh at others when they feel superior in one way or the other. This is why cartoonists use laughter from this perspective to satirise and ridicule politicians. The two studies reviewed on conceptual framework confirm the choice of qualitative method of research on which this study relied. Chapter two deals with reviews of related literature taking into consideration concept of cartoons, historical development of cartoons, satire and humour, impact of cartoons on political leaders and cartooning as a form of visual art expression. Low‟s (2006) article on William Hogarth (1697-1764), Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1828) and George Kruishank (1792-1878) discovered that their cartoons focused on wickedness and man‟s inhumanity to man. Onakpa (2014) and Onoja (2015) explain the value of cartoons as satirical in nature by using wit and criticism to checkmate wrong doings. Various other writers based their review on socio-political and economic nuances in their countries. Chapter three is on methodology. The qualitative research design with historical, descriptive and interpretative bias was adopted. Face-to-face interview structure was used to collect information from the cartoonists. Chapter four describes, analyses and interprets seventy two selected cartoons produced by the two cartoonists and the following are the findings made: (a) Mooyiwa and Akila are naturally talented in the field of art which they developed from childhood up to higher level of education. (b) Their cartoons recorded episodes and documented historical issues and events in Nigeria. (c) They used cartoons as visual weapons to criticise government. (d) Their works graphically portray endemic corruption that thrives in Nigeria. (e) Their subject-matter focuses on socio-political issues such as poverty, inflation, unemployment, stealing, robbery, corruption, political crisis, political deceit, political vendetta and insecurity. (f) In terms of style, technique and medium, both artists use black and white and colour rendition to produce their works. Conclusively, cartoons complement the news media to educate people graphically, especially in Nigerian newspapers. Through cartoons, Akila Jibrin (Briskan) and Mooyiwa Adetula have exposed corruption and its negative effect in Nigeria. The effect of corruption, according to them, leads to societal decay and stifling of development. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: (a) Establishment of cartoon as a subject of specialization in the school curriculum. (b) Government should tackle insecurity and criminality headlong and at the same time create job opportunity for the teeming unemployed youth and (c) There should be political reform in order to sanitise politicians and polity for Nigerian democracy to survive.
Background of the study
Cartoon is a drawing or representational symbol that makes a satirical, witty and humorous point (McCloud, 2002; Low, 2006). It may be a single panel or consist of multiple panels. Also, it can be drawn with or without a caption yet the message inherent in it is understood by the readers (Onakpa, 2014). Cartoonists use visual language like writers use words and a few lines of cartoon may carry a wealth of information. Cartoons appear as animated pictures in movie theatre and television (McCloud, 2002). They appear in comic strips or comic books, advertisement and a wide variety of merchandise. Cartoons are particularly popular in children‟s entertainment. Children respond to cartoons and are able to recognize them and even produce their own simple cartoons at early age. Though many cartoons are directed at young people, some cartoons are also intended for adult audience (McCloud, 2002).
Cartoon, in its original meaning, is a preliminary sketch meant for a large canvas or fresco painting or a tapestry design for pictures in mosaic (Fishner-Rathus, 2010). Cartoon acquired its present meaning in 1843 when a cartoon exhibition was ordered for competition by the British Parliament to get a design for the fresco wall of the new House of Parliament (McCloud, 2002; Fishner-Rathus, 2010). Many of the entries were ludicrously made and this prompted John Leech to draw a series of their imitation in Punch newspaper to satirise them. He used cartoons to satirise and lampoon the socio-political abuses of the period. From that moment, the word cartoon acquired its present popular meaning of a humorous drawing that satirises (Low, 2006, Onakpa, 2014).
Cartoons usually appear in magazine and newspaper publications, their target is mainly politicians or public office holders (Low, 2006). Cartoon is meant to create fun and laughter to readers. Some cartoons elicit smile from audience, while some are so absurd to the extent that they set people laughing (Sani, Abdullah, Ali, Abdullah 2012; Onakpa, 2014). Political cartoons have potentials of expressing opinion graphically in such a way that thousand words cannot provide equal expression. Cartoonists use humour to unite peop ale on particular point of view in terms of national interest in order to bring positive change (Jimoh, 2012; Onakpa, 2014). The editori8al cartoons of Akinola Lasekan in the West African Pilot newspaper of 1940s and 1950s, reflected colonialism in Nigeria which also depicted the struggle for independence that later matured in 1960 (Jimoh, 2010).
Cartoon, as a weapon, is used humorously to ridicule leaders in order to address their follies and irrational behaviours for the betterment of the society (Sani, 2012). Tyrants and radicals are said to fear satirical cartoons because of its effectiveness in displaying messages in realistic and visual form (Sani, 2012). However, despotic leaders and some government officials who cannot tolerate cartoon commentaries on critical issues often take revenge as a way of reacting either by closing down the newspaper companies or clamping down on the cartoonists by jailing them or enforcing other forms of punishment. For example, Charles Philipon‟s caricature of 1830 was closed by the French authorities because they were said to be politically offensive (Horns, 1992). Some cartoonists have also suffered in the hands of authorities for venturing into criticism against their corrupt governments.
Another relevant example is Honore Daumier (1808-1879), a socio-political cartoonist, who was imprisoned in 1832 for representing a King in France (King Louis Philippe) as „„gargantua‟‟ on la caricature (Fig. 1) founded in 1832 (Peter and Murray, 1976; Funk and Wagnall, 1975 and Kleiner, 2010). This same cartoon was further explained by Canaday (1981) when he states that, “Daumier was imprisoned for showing Louis Philippe swallowing bags of gold extracted from his people”. an advocate of his society‟s well-being, Daumier could not hide his feelings when confronted with corruption and hypocrisy in high places. He criticised these in a cartoon, „„The Witnesses‟‟ (Fig. 2). This cartoon portrays a revolt against oppression by the ruling class. The five figures portrayed in skeletal form are in motion, moving towards the door of “Conseil De Cuerre” (War Council Office), probably to complain of starvation. This war monger cartoon published in 1872 is still relevant to the oppressive situation of today. This study interrogates the socio-political cartoons of Mooyiwa Adetula of TheNation newspaper and Akila Jibrin (Briskan) of Daily Trust newspapers in order to analyse the messages embedded in their art work.
In Nigeria, cartoons are used as a non-violent means to achieve positive change. The impacts of Lasekan‟s (1916-1972) cartoons serve as examples. He produced provocative cartoons in the West African Pilot newspaper as weapons for political propaganda against colonialism (Nnadozie 2008; Onoja, 2015). His cartoons promoted national consciousness and also contributed to the achievement of Nigeria‟s independence in 1960. His cartoons, according to Fosu (1986), “were simpl e illustrations with symbolic meanings that were easy for average readers to understand”. Fosu further states that, Lasekan‟s cartoons were in consonance with the political stance of his newspaper‟s proprietor, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, who was also a fighter against colonialimperialism. One of such cartoons, according to the author, is „„The Blackman‟‟ and its message, as related by the author, was clearly telling the Europeans that, “it was high time for them to pack out from their colonial paradise in order to usher in the new indigenous political independence”.
Cartoonists, with their visual artistic expressions, make issues graphically clearer for people to understand. Onakpa (2014) elucidates this when he says “… Cartoons equally assist in providing a clear mental picture, speedy understanding, help memory and provide a shared experience. Some cartoons are even featured without caption or written explanation, yet the messages inherent in them are still understood by readers”. The fact that cartoonists have succeeded in accomplishing this task of educating, enlightening and entertaining the public, makes them relevant in the society.
Statement of the Problem
McCloud (2002) observes that some people enjoy reading cartoons. These cartoons, according to the author, can be found in journals and newspapers. In Nigeria, cartoons appear in some of the national daily newspapers. Their intent is to educate and entertain the public through satire and humour. Sometimes these newspapers carry caricatures of public figures or institutions and emphasize some characteristic weaknesses to the point of grotesqueness. The purpose of this is to make mockery of the people portrayed. The resemblance of the grotesque drawings to reality, despite the distortion, is easily recognizable. Yet, both the people and the institutions satirized seem to either ignore their implications or take them less seriously. Assuming that the grotesque drawings of the portraits can easily be overlooked, the messages which they portrayshould, at least, pose some problems of concern to the victims; instead the reading public casually admires and laughs over the caricatures without contemplating what they symbolise.
Surprisingly, cartoonists continue to publish their works unabated, despite the fact that such works have not received the desired attention and documentation by Critics and Art Historians, who are supposed to promote them. Instead they pay more attention to other works such as paintings and sculptures. The problem that necessitates this research is that; Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin, who are the focus of this research, are cartoonists with proven artistic achievement in the art of cartooning but whose works are yet to receive scholarly attention. It is therefore pertinent, to study and document their work for academic and historical purpose.
. Aim and objectives of the study
The aim of the study is to analyse Mooyiwa Adetula‟s and Akila Jibrin‟s cartoons on socio-political issues in Nigeria from 2007 to 2014, while the objectives of this research are to:
trace the academic background of the two cartoonists;examine what inspired them into the profession;describe and discuss the socio–political criticisms embedded in Mooyiwa
Adetula‟s and Akila Jibrin‟s (Briskan) cartoons from 2007 to 2014.
document the two cartoonists work from 2007 to 2014.analyse the style, technique, and media used by Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin (Briskan);identify similarities and differences in their work;
In order to achieve the aim and objectives of the study, the following questions are advanced:
What are the academic background of Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin (Briskan)?What inspired them into the art of cartooning?How can the socio-political cartoons of Mooyiwa Adetula and those of Akila Jibrin be described and discussed?In what ways can the two cartoonists work be documented from 2007-2014?How can the style, technique and media of Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin
(Briskan)‟s cartoons be analysed?
In what ways can the similarities and differences be discussed in their work?
Justification of the study
Some scholars have done related works on cartoons. These scholars include Lambert (1992), Osuji (1999), Ibrahim (2002), Manning and Phiddian (2004). Other scholars are Wudiri (2012) Onakpa (2014), Onoja (2015), Otu (2015) and Rabidoux (2016) among others. In the thesis of Wudiri (2012) titled “Art and Political Enlightenment: A study of selected cartoons in some Nigerian Newspapers (2004-2007)”, he discusses the role cartoons play in exposing the corrupt political class in Nigeria. Otu (2015), in his thesis “Rethinking the Cartooning Epistemology: The female cartoonist in Nigeria” discusses female stereotype in cartooning, and discovers that, female cartoonists do exist and have worked side by side with their male counterpart; thus disabusing the mind of the public that female cartoonists were non-existent in Nigeria, while Rabidoux (2010) discusses political cartoons and their role in the Canadian democracy.
Though, some of the cited works either focused on the exclusion of women cartoonists from scholarship or on the analysis of some of the cartoonists‟ work, it is still necessary to re-examine the current issues on cartooning in Nigeria since there is a dearth of knowledge on the study of cartooning in the country. Available literature affirmed that no indebt study on socio-political cartoons of Mooyiwa and Akila has been made; hence a gap has been created, thereby justifying the need for this study.
Significance of the Study
The study, “The Socio-Political cartoons of Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin in National Dailies of Nigeria 2007-2014”, is significant because, it has raised awareness on the values of cartoons as a silent advocacy in the socio-political life of Nigerians. It is also significant, in the sense that it will benefit the Nigerian government and the public. It is beneficial to the government, because the objective criticism of cartoons is hoped to influence governmental activities and policies. On the other hand, the ability of the cartoonists to express public feelings or reactions to crucial issues, casts them as the advocates of the masses. In addition, the study has served as a resource material to contemporary art in Nigeria.
Scope and Delimitation.
Medubi (n.d.) traces cartooning in Nigeria from Akinola Lasekan (1916-1972) and enumerates the subsequent cartoonists who followed suit as follows: Josy Ajiboye, Dele Jegede, and David Akande of Daily Times; Kenny Adamson, Moses Ebong (Omoba), Aliyu Eloje, Akin Onipede, K. C. Okoronkwo, Bennett Omeke of Punch; Bisi Ogunbadejo, Ebun Alesinloye, O. B. Olaseinde (Obe Ess), D. D. Onu, Bunmi Oloruntoba of The Guardian; Laobi Obilonu, Nath Ngere of Vanguard; and Adewole Adenle of PostExpress. Suleiman (1983) includes the following cartoonists to the list, Ade Ogundero of Sunday Renaissance; Boye Gbenro of National Concord and Chris Nworjih of Punch.
Bearing in mind that there are many cartoonists in Nigeria, some of whom have been mentioned, the scope of this study is therefore restricted to Mooyiwa Adetula of TheNation and Akila Jibrin (Briskan‟s) cartoons of the Daily Trust newspapers, and the analysis of some of their works within the specific period of 7years (2007-2014). This study is delimited to socio-political issues raised by the two cartoonists from 2007 to 2014.
Due to a fire disaster which destroyed Mooyiwa‟s office and documents in 2012, he was unable to provide enough data for this research. Most of his cartoons in this thesis were sorted out from libraries.
Conceptual and Theoretical framework
The conceptual and theoretical frameworks considered in analyising this work are two. The first conceptual framework is derived from Sander in Jari (2007) while the second is theoretical framework derived from Sani, Abdullah, Ali, Abdullah (2012). Sander, in Jari (2007), alludes to the point that, researches which are historical in nature should adopt qualitative method, especially if the analysis of the data collected would feature descriptive discussion and interpretation.
This study had its objectives to describe and interpret the cartoons of Mooyiwa Adetula and Akila Jibrin of the Nation and Daily Trust newspapers respectively. The relevance of the concept to this research is that, it provides an analytical base for describing and interpreting the two cartoonists‟ works. Jari (2007) also advocates that, art work should be subjected to description, analysis and interpretation as it is employed by Feldman (1970) and Barnet (2003). According to him, these authors maintain that, in describing a work, the critic should list all the elements of design perceived. In such analysis, the critic should explain how the elements are combined to achieve the principle of design. In this study, the elements of design perceived are utilized for judgement, these are: line, colour, form, space, texture, perspective and composition.
Another theoretical dimension relevant to this study is derived from (MacHovec 1988 as cited in Sani, Abdullah, Ali, Abdullah 2012), where they explain various theoretical perspectives of humour and its functions. According to them, they are Superiority theories, Relief theories, and Incongruity theories. The most relevant to this study is superiority theories. Superiority theories are mainly concerned with self-assertion; that is, disposition of observer and the observed, who initiates humorous effect. The relationship explains how things appear funny naturally. People usually laugh at others when they feel superior in one way or the other. According to the authors, this is why cartoonists use laughter from this perspective to satirize and ridicule politicians (MacHovec, 1988 in Sani et al 2012). The major argument of superiority theories, as stated by the authors, is that an individual or group of people may derive enjoyment by ridiculing the belief of others because they think their belief is superior to those of others. Superiority theories are said to have originated from Plato‟s philosophical observation that people get enjoyment from the shortcomings of others (Sani, 2012).
The relevance of this concept to this study is that, it provides the researcher an ample opportunity to examine satirized political cartoons humorously. Summarily, the combination of methods employed in this study was found to be reliable and result oriented.
THE SOCIO-POLITICAL CARTOONS OF MOOYIWA ADETULA AND AKILA JIBRIN IN NATIONAL DAILIES OF NIGERIA 2007-2014
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