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Puppet Freedom

March 8, 2010

This blog post by Easterly got me thinking more broadly about satire and humour as a means of resistance, not only within the development establishment, but also in the developing world.

Maggie & The ever-faithful Major

For those of you old enough and British enough (not many probably!) may remember Spitting Image – a satirical puppet show that ripped apart the political and social big-wigs of the time. Mainly Thatcher, then. It managed to blend family entertainment with cutting political satire perfectly, poking fun at the establishment at the same time. And hey, who doesn’t like puppets?

It seems a new generation of satricial puppets has been born in Africa – with similar grotesque puppets appearing in both Kenya  & South Africa.

This recent video by ZAnews in South Africa plays on Zuma’s rather public perchant for the ladies being a personal favourite.

“Have baby by me, baby, be a Zuma heir” – genius!

In Kenya the XYZ show has been taking great pleasure over the problems Raila Odinga & Mwai Kibaki have had sharing power since 2007.  America’s first Kenyan President makes guest appearances too.

Is this a demonstration that African governments are beginning to laugh at themselves?

Well, maybe not. ZAnews has not been picked up by any broadcaster in South Africa (many suggest political interference in SABC – the state-owned broadcaster) forcing it into the realms of the internet. It’s cause was probably not helped by Jonathan Shapiro’s – more commonly know as Zapiro – involvement. Few members of the ANC seem to have gotten over this cartoon yet:

A Rape Too Far?

Nonetheless, the mere fact such shows and cartoons exist is a step in the right direction.

I wonder how long it will be before we see puppets of Museveni, Mugabe and Yar’Adua?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Andy S permalink
    March 8, 2010 4:24 pm

    The aid industry is gradually developing an ability to parody itself too:

    Clearly written by someone who works in aid – funny and very, very critical.

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