Schlagwort-Archive: visual

Exklusive Interview with Zapiro

4000 Cartoons and 15 books. Johnathan Shapiro about his life, freedom of opinion and politics

(Editor: Annalisa Wellhäuser)

Open any South African newspaper today and you will most probably find a cartoon that comments South African politics drawn by the artist Zapiro. Who doesn‘t know the famous sketch picturing the current South African president Jacob Zuma with a shower above his head alluding to his statement that he took a shower after having had sex with an HIV-positive woman. Zapiro, born 1958 as Jonathan Shapiro in Cape Town, is the most famous cartoonist of these days in South Africa. His drawings appear in the Mail and the Guardian,Sunday Times and The Times. Moreover his art has been published in exhibitions all over the world and he has won numerous awards.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: President Jacob Zuma is taking a shower after having sex with a HIV infected woman.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: Lady Justice in danger.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: Whites have benefited from Apartheid.

„SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“, the German Gateway to South Africa, met Zapiro in his office in Cape Town to find out more about this artist who is not afraid to say what he thinks with if it comes to politics.

Zapiro already discovered his passion for art as a child. Back then he used to have nightmares about frightening monsters and in order to deal with those scary dreams, he started drawing about them. Indeed that kind of self-therapy did help him to overcome his nightmares. And not only that; He enjoyed the drawing a lot. It was his dream to become an artist. He entered drawing competitions and also was active for the school newspaper. He invented the little character “Prepi“, who commented on what‘s going on in preparatory school.

Soon ,he was also confronted with the politics happening in his country. His mum made him aware already at a very young age that they were living in a society “that was wrong“; his very first “kind of political experience“ was when Verwoerd 1 was assassinated in 1966. In school they were asked to pray for the “architect of apartheid“ and Zapiro remembers being confused and thinking“ Hey, this was not a good guy!“. Throughout his school time he was “at odds” with the general trend of supporting Apartheid amongst even English speaking white people, but he was not yet involved in any political actions at that time. After school he started studying architecture; not because he was passionate about it, but in order for him to stay out of the army. When he decided to change to graphic design and try to become a cartoonist, they „got him„, he had to enter the army. In the army Zapiro refused to carry a gun, so they made him carry a heavy wooden dummy and made fun of him. Once a colleague made him stand guard with it, „which was ridiculous, I became a bit of a laughing stock but in a funny way, like a clown thing„, Zapiro says.

However, the joke actually backfired, because he showed the other conscripts that he could handle this heavy arm very well as by doing exactly everything that they were doing with it. This was his way of rebelling against this and spreading his political message. He was regarded as a political consciousness non-commitant, as a communist, as dangerous. At that time he was not yet involved in any political organization, the UDF (United Democratic Front) formed just over a year after he was conscripted. But when it was formed in 1983, it was absolutely clear for him that he would join. Same appealed to his mum, his sister and a lot of his friends. Suddenly there was this non-racial grouping that felt right for them: much more elegentarian, much more open and much more connected to national politics. It was also connected to the ANC-but he didn’t want to be involved into nor speak about it, because that was dangerous when they found out they were linked. Him and some of his family members even got detained at some point.

However, Zapiro has never wanted to be a politician. He sees a big difference between being enormously involved as an activist and becoming a politician. ,,Professional politics are very different from being a political activist.” In his opinion only a few people managed to retain this integrity and those principles that guided them and made them passionate. Other people do things now out of personal gain or party political aims; they have become corrupt, comfortable and a bit apathetic compared to what they used to be. Also there are those who are within a party and are against those who are outside the party and maybe doing good things. „All those things I would hate„, he states. He has seen people he knew who have made this trancession- only a few managed it successfully. According to him the country needs people who become politicians and remain focussed, altruistic and incorruptible. But the country also needs civil society and media-so in his opinion his best role is to be a visual columnist- and still to a little extend an activist. To produce his drawings, he obviously needs to do a lot of research on politics. For that Zapiro listens to the radio a lot, reads many different newspapers and consults the internet in order to look at the same sort of issue dealt with in different ways. Also he records some things broadcasted on television.

© Johnathan Shaprio alias Zapiro, South Africa´s most influential and provocative cartoonist. He has been in conflict several times with the government.

Zapiro explains that cartoons are primarily about thinking and communication; about finding a device to say something that one believes in. „They are 80% idea and 20% drawing.„ According to him there are cartoonists out there, who are good, but not necessarily the best cartoonist in the world -however they are really able to communicate by their art. On the other hand it would not be possible to carry weak ideas with good drawings. „It`s about thoughts. „ To give an example, Zapiro speaks about one cartoon that he did, which displayed a little line of text on top saying „Whites who never benefited from Apartheid„ and a blank page underneath he states that at the time of the release of the cartoon, there were people denying to have known about Apartheid. There were white people avoiding responsibility for the benefits that they were given while living under Apartheid.

Zapiro was irritated by that attitude and got inspired to create this „cartoon„. This cartoon did not even have a picture, but still, so Zapiro, „ This cartoon was conceptually really good and really powerful, one of the best cartoons I have ever done.„ It is Zapiro`s intention to trigger strong reactions with his drawings amongst the people. He wants to make people think. Maybe some people say „That’s exactly how I feel, I didn’t know how to express it.„ But he is not only addressing the people who think exactly like him- which, in his opinion, would not make any sense. He knows that there are people, who might agree and as well disagree on his thoughts on certain issues. However it is not his intention to convince the people, who think completely different. According to him it is all those people in the middle-he can make them see something in a new way by being a little bit persuasive to them.

When asking him what subject he would like to draw a sketch on, that he is not allowed to draw one on, he replies that there is nobody who can tell him not to do a cartoon on a certain topic. It is rather him who holds himself back. When he started as a political activist he used to be quite constrained by political correctness, whereas these days he is ready to accept those rules. „ I don’t like to gratuisly insult people in a hurtful way, who are in a way vulnerable.„ Still, even then his feeling of what is acceptable to draw a cartoon on would be way further down the line than that of others. If he felt that people are the aggressors, he wouldn`t care about them. For instance, if it comes to religion. In his view religion has done a huge amount of harm with regard to gay people and women and it has even promoted spread of HIV. Concerning this topic he would go really hard for the people in power.

Zapiro says he has done things that people would consider totally insulting. He states that some things around traditional culture are quite difficult to deal with in cartoons, because people treat them in a way religion is treated. According to him there exists some kind of communality. And at the moment there would be plenty of times when cartoons can be misinterpreted on purpose to make people out as racists even though they are not.

After the feedback that Zapiro is receiving is not always positive; president Jacob Zuma has pressed charges against him already for doing certain drawings on him. Zapiro says that he believes in the South African institutions, in the constitution , and he feels that these are strong enough to keep up freedom of speech -which he supports and which is part of what gives him resolve. Zapiro explains that his politics haven`t changed a lot, but politics of some people in power have changed and he considers himself lucky to not have as much constraints as people in power. If he believes in something he will go for it.

Further I ask him about his opinion concerning voices in this country saying that some kind of reversed apartheid is arising, where it is now black South African people against the other cultures. Zapiro responds that this is one of the topics, where he will get either into one form of discourse or another depending on who he is speaking to. On the one hand, if he would be speaking to his old political comrades he would be mouthing off at the death of non racialism and at the rise of a certain form of nationalism and elitism. On the other hand, if those amongst the white South Africans, who have never had “political bone„ in their body during apartheid era come and complain in an uninformed way to him about how bad things are and so called „reversed racism„, he gets into a whole different conversation. He would try to explain how much better things are now than they were then. And after all it is still white people who are at the top of the power in many important fields. He says that there is a certain kind of racism that still exists very strongly in the white community of South Africa. He continues saying that there are some absurdities in the way that affirmative action has been taking place; not the way it should be. And that he is the last person to say that all is ok. But to claim that things are the same way as they used to be in Apartheid, simply reversed, was not true, but absolute rubbish.

Then we speak about Julius Malema singing the old song „Kill the boers„. Zapiro calls Malema`s behaviour „crass and wrong„, he could not sing that song in the context of the new South Africa. He explains that the song was an apartheid era song, which had a metaphorical reason. It was about killing the system of apartheid, to fight those police men and farmers, who really were brutally assaulting and killed people .„And that was all understood then.„ Zapiro states that it is wrong to sing that song today, because its purpose is essentially to try „to mobilize disaffected youth, because the ANC is not delivering properly to them and try to make them focus some of their anger on people, who these days are not necessarily aggressing, at least not the same extent as before.”However, he thinks that one cannot ban a song and that the high court`s decision to try to prevent him from singing the song was wrong. As a supporter of freedom of express he does not agree on it. „You can call somebody a political opportunist without saying you are not allowed to sing that song. It is a lot more nuanced and complicated than saying: Julius Malema is the equivilant of what Terre Blanche2 was…it doesn’t work like that.„ Zapiro has done cartoons criticizing that decision of the court. I support the human rights commission and the UN`s determination on the definition of hate speech and that it should be prevented. He explains that that would be hate speech where you could make a connection between something that was said, such as a speech, a song or a piece of writing, and the active going out and killing somebody. However, he doesn`t think that “ people went out killing people because of what Julius said…. “3 “If you can make that connection, that because of that song that person was killed..that`s where you can draw the line. But that’s very far down the line of speech before you can make that decision.”

Zapiro says that there was a complaint about his cartoon „Lady justice„ and that the human rights commission exonerated him for doing the drawing and its publication, because of their determination that it is not inciting anyone to do anything to anybody else. „It was a metaphor about what Zuma was doing to the judiciary.„ „Freedom of express is very important to me.„ So if he started saying ,they should ban that song, then he could as well allow somebody to say to ban his cartoon, because both of them could be interpreted in a way that they could be objectionable.„There has to be consistency.„

Zapiro is producing with his cartoons political messages

Before the interview comes to an end I would like to find out from Zapiro what are his wishes for the new South Africa, what kind of development he thinks is necessary for it to become the peaceful rainbow nation everybody is longing for. Zapiro answers, „I remember when Tutu came up with the rainbow nation idea during the meeting of the inconscription campaign in 1985.It was always a bit idealistic. „ According to Zapiro, Tutu wished for rainbow coalition of different groupings in the political movement fighting for the same aim: freedom, non racialism, democracy. However, Zapiro believes that South Africa has only had a few rainbow-moments since democracy. As an example he names the rugby world cup in 1995. “I`m afraid to say now, that unlike before, where I thought the white community was hugely responsible for not apologizing and not taking responsibility, I still say that ,I think now a lot more could have been done if the ANC had not become fat, comfortable and corrupt, and if say the people at the top were not promoting this narrow elite and not just paying lip service to delivery, but really were delivering and trying to bridge the wealth gap. That is where is should go.„ Zapiro believes that only then people can have some real reconciliation, because so far there are a lot of unresolved matters after truth reconciliation commission hearings. According to Zapiro, it is most important to close the inaquity in this society.„ South Africa has become the most inequal society in the world , we are even behind Brazil. And for that to be the state almost after 17 years of democracy is outrageous.„

Finally I would like to find out what Zapiro`s personal plans and dreams are for the future. „For the medium term I want to continue what I`m doing, but want to make sure I`m still feeling like I`m relevant and got something to say, because if I do not- I want to pull out and go for something in the long term.„ He has managed to produce over 4000 cartoons and 15 books , but he doesn`t want to do the same thing for ever, he also wants to do other things. In the long term Zapiro would like to move into some other genres of cartooning and storytelling, which he loves. He would like to become a bit more balanced person, because the intensity he has with the cartooning does tend to overwhelm a great part of his life. He wants to spend more time with his family.

HIER FINDEST DU DAS INTERVIEW IN DEUTSCH.

1   He was the 3rd national party prime minister after DF Malan and Jacob Strijdom
2   Formed the Afrikaaner Resistence Movement during Apartheid< was seen as white supremacist
3   Discussion in South Africa about a possible connection between Malema singing the song,,Kill the boers“ and the murder of Terre Blanche

From styling to singing

Lindiwe Suttle – singer, songwriter and model – in interview

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

© Lindiwe Suttle, model and singer

Lindiwe Suttle ist eine US-amerikanische und südafrikanische Bürgerin, die einen äußerst bunten Werdegang vorzeigen kann. Die  Stylistin arbeitete anfänglich mit mehreren Superstars wie Beyoncé and Ciara zusammen. Ihre Arbeit war durchaus herausfordernd – sagt sie – da nicht viele VIPs ihre Person in punkto Make-up und Haare verändern woll(t)en. Denn Styling kann letztendlich als Kritik zum eigenen Stil aufgefasst werden. Und dennoch verspürte die Tochter einer südafrikanischen Mutter den Drang nach  kreativer Selbstverwirklichung. Sie arbeitete einige Jahre im US-Modemarketing, kündigte ihren Job und wanderte nach Kapstadt aus, wo sie den Modeeinkauf ausübte. Im Anschluss lebte sie im Rahmen einer Beziehung in Hamburg, welche zerbrach. Diesen Schmerz verarbeitete sie in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Produzenten Benni Dernhoff auf künstlerischer Weise – beginnend als Leadsängerin der Jazz-Hip-Hop-Band „The Collective Imagination“, dann mit Unterstützung des Düsseldorfer Rockmusikers Marius Müller-Westernhagen als Solokünstlerin.

Mittlerweile konnte sich Lindiwe Suttle – eine Powerfrau mit afrikanischen Werten und amerikanischer Prägung – als Sängerin, Songwriterin, Artistin und Model etablieren. Vor allem die Musik, welche sie seit 2007 professionell betreibt, bedeutet ihr sehr viel. Diese bezeichnet sie als „Kern für alles“. In bekannten Magazinen wie Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan oder GQ wurde Suttle abgebildet. Genauso warb sie für die Marke Frazer Parfum, worüber sie sehr glücklich ist. Lindiwe Suttle betont, dass sie eine große Bindung zu ihrer südafrikanischen Heimat hat. Dementsprechend kooperiert sie bewusst mit südafrikanischen Designern wie Lara Klawikowski, Kutloano Molokomme und Cleo Droomer. Auf diesem Wege trägt sie zur Internationalisierung der südafrikanischen Fashionszene bei. Auf die Frage hin, wie man die gesellschaftspolitischen Probleme Südafrikas angehen sollte, beantwortet die Sängerin diese mit einem Angebot an guter Bildung. Für 2012 steckt sich Lindiwe Suttle große Ziele, nämlich die weltweite Aufführung von mindestens 40 Shows zu ihrem Debütalbum Kamikaze Art.

Lindiwe Suttle’s „MAN MADE MOON“ (debut single)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German Gateway to South Africa – Ms. Lindiwe Suttle, model and singer. May you please inform the readers where you come from and where you are based at the moment?

Answer: I was born and raised in USA to a South African Mother and an American Father. I was raised with traditional African values in a very American surrounding. I lived a very different lifestyle than my American friends. My mother taught me the values she learned from her grandparents.

I have lived in Cape Town in South Africa for the past nine years. Cape Town is an important city to me and I consider it my home. It is dear to my heart because this is where I launched my music career, which is significant in my life.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You worked in the fashion industry with superstars like Beyoncé and Ciara. Which moment has changed your mind to switch over into self-expression? 

Answer: Being a stylist is a hard job. At the time many films were coming to Atlanta, my hometown. I was lucky singer Beyonce was the first big star I worked with, she was kind and humble to me even with all my beginner mistakes. I worked with other celebrities after her that were a little less forgiving.

The job of a stylist is challenging because everyone thinks they have great style. A makeup artist or hair stylist is seen to have a professional skill but style goes deeper it touches ones character. Not many people are open to changing their personal style like they would a hairstyle or wearing a different shade of lipstick.  Style suggestions are more personal, almost like a criticism to their character. In the end, I realized I excelled best at expressing my own personal style. I use fashion on stage in my theatrical shows, elaborately styled music videos and photo shoots. I love playing with fashion, it’s an expression of all my characters. The music is the core of everything and everything else is just extra to make it more visual.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are known as model, especially in South Africa. Magazines like Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan or GQ have reported about you. What does the South African fashion style represent?

Answer: I have been lucky to model for brands like face of Frazer Parfum and I was the face of the Woolworths beauty campaign. I never took the job as a model serious till I was in front of the camera. I give respect to models, it’s a tough job knowing the right angels for your face.

There is an abundance of talent in South Africa. The challenge now is getting the designers international exposure. I have been a big supporter of local talent since I have lived here. I credit them for getting my into Vogue Italy and helping me win style awards like Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year – Style Icon and the 2010 SA Style Award. I have a great relationship with many South African designers, Lara Klawikowski, Kutloano Molokomme, Cleo Droomer all create costumes for my shows.

© Lindiwe Suttle as part of the Frazer Parfum campaign „Ambassador for Nature“

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Additionally to your model job, you are performing as singer. Isn´t it an unusually combination? How could you combine both professions?

Answer: I have been a singer, songwriter and performance artist since I began my music career in 2007. I started out in business and after my MBA I worked in the fashion industry in fashion marketing, merchandising and eventually styling celebrities. I moved out of the entertainment business and moved to SA wanting to focus on my own goals. I worked in fashion buying in Cape Town for a couple of years and I learned a lot about the retail but felt too restricted in the corporate environment. I quit my job and that was when I found music again.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We took notice, that are you in contact with Germans in artistic matters. Which impression do you have of Germany?

Answer: After I quit my corporate job I moved to Hamburg Germany for a relationship that eventually went bad. This relationship was a catalyst for me to starting writing lyrics all inspired by this love gone wrong. I worked in studio for the first time with Hamburg producer Benni Dernhoff. We created me first demo that I took to SA.  I auditioned as lead singer of The Collective Imagination, a jazz-hip-hop band and performed for one and half year with them. I launched my solo career end of 2009. I was discovered by German legend, Marius Mueller-Westernhagen and his wife Romney. They have been my big support in my music career. One year later, Marius connected me with Tim Renner and Motor Music, my management company. Motor Music introduced me to producer, Ivan Georgiev. Ivan and I worked on my debut album, Kamikaze Art all of 2011.

Lindiwe Suttle and the jazz-hip-hop band „The Collective Imagination“

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South Africa is in German media mostly in context with negative headlines. Which are the biggest problems of this young democracy and what should politics and society do?

Answer: I think it is important to redesigning the current educational system to better prepare our youth for a prosperous future in the global market. I would love to  build a free skills training school in each community for all ages. There would be a variety of free classes offered like leadership classes for adults, arts for children, cooking, and sports. I think a good education is the first step to a better South Africa.

© Lindiwe Suttle: „My music comes from the heart and I feel it is the most open and honest I have been about the experiences in my life.“

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which dreams in private and professional view would you like to realize?

Answer: My biggest goal in my life is to stay healthy and happy without these two things nothing else can happen in your life. In music, I want to perform worldwide and tour my debut album, Kamikaze Art. My goal is perform at least 40 shows in 2012. I want  to take Kamikaze Art to audiences around the world and have them experience my live shows with me. My music comes from the heart and I feel it is the most open and honest I have been about the experiences in my life.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Lindiwe Suttle, model and singer, thank you very much for this interview.