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November 19, 2008

Political Cartoonist’s Exhibit Lauds, Lambastes Mandela

South African political cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro’s latest exhibit praises and pokes fun at Nelson Mandela; the Johannesburg show is part of a yearlong celebration marking the 90th birthday of the political activist, AIDS advocate and former South African president, The Associated Press reports.

“Mandela embodies the greatest things that came out of the struggle (against apartheid) and since democracy,” Shapiro told The AP. “It is this spirit I have tried to tap into.”

Some cartoons lambast Mandela for foreign policy missteps during his reign, most notably when he accepted an award from former Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto. In one, Mandela chastises successor Thabo Mbeki for dragging his heels on HIV/AIDS issues. And others cartoons are serious, such as the one depicting Mandela announcing that his son died of AIDS.

According to the article, the drawings also depict what Shapiro thought Mandela would look like in jail. Pictures of the imprisoned Mandela had been banned for decades and so few people saw him until he was released in 1990. “He has said he is not a saint, and I felt I had to be critical of him,” Shapiro said. “I owed it to myself and to him.”

“I have been influenced and driven by [Mandela],” Shapiro said.” It has been a strange and wonderful relationship—mostly praising him and occasionally sniping at him from the sidelines.”

Search: Nelson Mandela, South Africa, Jonathan Shapiro


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