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‘South Africa is the gift that keeps on giving,’ says Zapiro at launch of annual collection of cartoons

‘South Africa is the gift that keeps on giving,’ says Zapiro at launch of annual collection of cartoons
Daily Maverick Associate Editor Marianne Thamm. (Photo: Daniel Born) | Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Legendary cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, launched his 28th annual collection during a recent Daily Maverick webinar. ‘For a cartoonist, South Africa is the gift that keeps on giving,’ he said.

“It’s been another crazy year with more ANC shenanigans, never-ending load shedding, Zuma Stalingrading, Cyril’s Putin butt-kissing, Juju grandstanding and Steenhuisen moonshotting. For a cartoonist, South Africa is the gift that keeps on giving,” cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, said during a Daily Maverick webinar on Friday, 10 November. 

He was speaking to Daily Maverick journalist Marianne Thamm about his 2023 collection RamApocalypse Now (his 28th annual collection), the context around some of his cartoons and his creative process.

During the webinar, Shapiro shared a 50-minute presentation on some of the cartoons in the book.  

RamApocalypse Now covers many momentous events of the past 11 months, capturing 2023 in a unique way and it’s a brilliant gift for anyone wanting to laugh (and cry) over current events.

It includes cartoons focusing on Agoa, the BRICS Summit, former president Jacob Zuma’s legal trials, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, and how Johannesburg has more mayors than potholes.

The covers of Zapiro’s annual collections depict moments that say something about the year and the year’s biggest stories. This year’s cover features a drawing of Ramaphosa’s “impactful” African Peace Mission to Ukraine and Russia.

“Putin respected Ramaphosa so much in the African Peace Mission that he even bombarded Kyiv with missiles while President Cyril was in the city speaking to Volodymyr Zelensky,” said Zapiro.

“Now and then we get a reality check as to what our very strange foreign affairs policies really mean.” 

He unpacked a number of other issues featured in the book.

“The Thabo Bester story was a huge story when we consider the impact it had on our justice system and the image it portrayed of South Africa globally. 

“We also had the Deputy President thinking his VIP officers were taking a leak when they were brutally beating up citizens on the side of the highway.”

Thamm asked a question posed by a webinar audience member about how Zapiro balances humour and anger in his creative process, and how to manage satire and political correctness. 

“When I started out in 1983, I was very much politically correct in my illustration because I was mostly on the left wing, such as your United Democratic Front, but essentially I followed the ANC,” he said.

“I had to beat the political correctness out of myself immediately in the early nineties before the ANC came. I don’t think I am politically correct now. It’s just that I always find new ways to communicate things in a satirical approach because I am driven by passion.”

Read More in Daily Maverick: Zapiro’s annual collection of cartoons once again spares no holy cows

Responding to a question on how long it takes to produce a cartoon, Zapiro said it differs: “Sometimes it takes me quick and a lot of times it’s very long.”

He added that the cartoons about the Springboks were time-consuming: “I wanted to include many details into it not just for colour but to enrich the illustration and the meaning of how they won the World Cup with a one-point difference.” DM

Zapiro: RamApocalypse Now is available at the Daily Maverick Shop, where Maverick Insiders can use their coupon for a 10% discount.

Subscribe to the Daily Maverick webinar newsletter and keep updated about our upcoming conversations here.

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  • Rae Earl says:

    Zapiro is world class. The ANC and EFF must cringe and squirm every time they do something stupid enough to be targeted by his wit and insight. Zapiro is right, he will never run out of ammunition in our country.

  • Agf Agf says:

    I used to enjoy his cartoons years ago but I do not like his anti Israel stance. It feels like he is standing with the terrorists.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Is that not what our apartheid government and the US and Israel government in particular, said about Madiba and the ANC also … right till the end ? It is still not too late to wake up !

  • Jacci Babich says:

    Zapiro is simply the best! We have been ardent fans for years. When reading the DM I first turn to the cartoons and readers views. Then its time to settle down and pick, choose and dip into the rich variety of stories. And that can last up to a week. Anything that makes me mad, grabs our attention or provides food for deeper interest or research, its onto the computer. Also to share WhatsApp interest points with friends and family both here and overseas.

  • Kathleen Leresche says:

    Thanks Zapiri for keeping us going during these murky times of growing dread…. Not only local miralacape but Trump, the climate, the polarization with seemingly more than ever people spewing rhetorical hatred and the masses lapping it up… Trump again is the stuff of nightmares

  • raymond.abrahamse says:

    Zapiro – Amid all the doom and gloom,At least he brings some humour into our lives more than “this politician said this and that politician said that and blah blah blah….”yet none of them are able to bring a smile on your face.

  • biddy1049 says:

    From Almuñecar, Spain

  • Gary Wild says:

    A brilliant thought provoking cartoonist. His work brings a smile to my face. Not many artists are capable of approaching such serious subject matter in a humorous fashion. Keep up the excellence Johnathan.

  • Leon Schipper says:

    I agree with Kanu. There is no justification for Israeli Apartheid, so congrats to Zapiro for speaking his conscience and maybe opening the eyes of people like AgfAgf who blindly support Israel notwithstanding the moral indefensibility of Israeli actions. He has certainly helped give me the courage to speak my conscience in this matter, without a care for what friends or family may think.
    It is hypocritical in the extreme that Christians who preach the “Peace” and “Love” of Christ can gloat at the image of bombs falling on mostly-innocents and call for the wholesale eradication of the Palestinian people. No action can be justified by a pre-historic “God-given” “right” to the land where Palestinians lived a mere 100 years ago, and who were dispossessed by the pen of the British Imperialist Lord Balfour, aided and abetted by the equally imperialist USA. And if prior occupation is a valid argument, then Native Americans must be given all the land of the Americas, and everyone of European or African descent now living there must be expelled or exterminated same as Israel and the USA believe may be done with the Palestinians.

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