As part of the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, the Cartooning for Peace Swiss Foundation and the City of Geneva present the 2016 International Editorial Cartoons Prize to Kenyan based caricaturist, Gado and the Malaysian cartoonist, Zunar. The prize that is awarded by Honorary President of the Swiss Foundation, Mr. Kofi Annan is awarded every two years in Geneva. The award seeks to reward a cartoonist for his/her courage, talent and commitment to the values of peace, tolerance as well as for his/her fight for freedom of expression.
“Gado and Zunar remind us how fragile this liberty remains in Africa and in Asia as well as in other regions of the world. Through their commitment towards open and transparent societies, Gado and Zunar, who have received threats in their countries of origin and can no longer practice their profession, confront us with our responsibility to preserve freedom of expression and act in order to support the combat of those who cannot express themselves through their art”, declared Mr Annan.
The cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, Vice-President of the Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace and jury member added: “For having had the courage to draw the king naked, Gado and Zunar are faced with a power machine that seeks to silence them. What this Prize seeks to do is just the opposite: to amplify their voices, which are those of democracy and justice.”
Gado started producing caricatures at 15 before becoming a freelancer for the Daily News, Business Times and The Express. Gado, whose real name is Godfrey Mwampembwa, was since 1992 and until recently the accredited cartoonist for the Nairobi-based newspaper, the Daily Nation, one of the most important daily newspapers in Central and East Africa. He also draws for the Tanzanian Daily News, Business Times Express, and for the Sunday Tribune in South Africa. New African (United Kingdom) and Courrier International (France) often publish his work. The cartoonist focuses on the problems of African countries including poverty, education, terrorism, health and corruption. For Gado, “press cartoons are never right or wrong… Their role is to raise questions, provoke reflection and favour the process through which people can speak, discuss, and propose some ideas”. Gado has just lost his job with the Nation Media Group for having denounced in his drawings the corruption of Africans in power
Zunar (Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque) is a political cartoonist from Malaysia. With slogan, “How Can I be Neutral, Even My Pen Has a Stand”, he exposes corruption and abuse of power committed by the government of Malaysia through his art. He is now facing nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and facing possible 43 years imprisonment. The Malaysian government has banned five of his cartoon books on the ground that the contents are “detrimental to public order.” Zunar was the only Malaysian selected by Amnesty International as the first Malaysian for their biggest annual international campaign, ‘Write for Rights (#W4R) 2015′. Zunar has previously won the “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award 2011” by Cartoonists Right Network International, the Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 & 2015 and the International Press Freedom Award, Committee to Protect Journalist, New York 2015.
Alongside the 2016 Prize, an exhibition of the prize winners’ drawings and those of other cartoonists who are members of Cartooning for Peace was inaugurated this along the quai Wilson in Geneva. The one hundred or so drawings exhibited are divided into five categories: the 2016 prize winners, Exodus, Liberty and Security, Cyber world and Planet Earth. The two cartoonists’ woes are yet another tale of being bitten after rattling a snake. The political scene in Kenya and Africa has a long way to in accepting criticism without the whistle blower suffering consequences for the same.