Turn to page two or three of your favourite newspaper…
There is a high chance you are staring at a caricature of a public figure, or to be more precise a political figure. Ghana is a democratic country where freedom of expression is one of her citizens’ favourite democratic liberties. We have found many ways to tell our stories, which suitably satisfy the needs of information-hungry citizens. Not everyone will be happy to read an over 500-word article of a political squabble when a picture will tell them pretty much the same story in no or very few words.
There are different ways to interpret information, but when it comes to cartoons, the tables turn. They usually give a clear picture, but the time it takes to decode the hidden information in that satirical artwork differs from one person to another. Sometimes the cartoon is just topping on the cake; because after hearing the same news over again on the radio and seeing it on television, a political cartoon is a necessary and creative iteration.
What exactly do political cartoons offer? They ridicule politicians when they move in the wrong direction in their line of duty or even in their personal lives. Whenever this happens, citizens often view the cartoons as vents for their disgust, disappointment, or pain. The caricatures just provide an ‘Aha!’ moment, when the distorted figures are a well-deserved punishment for the wayward leader. Political cartoons also point out societal issues that need to be addressed. They seek to make cankers more real in the eyes of the viewer as concrete issues and not vague matters.
To the cartoonists, their art pieces are not proof of their political affiliations. They are just being concerned citizens—concerned for the future and state of affairs of their country. They are brave journalists who inform us with pencil and paint. Sometimes, these drawings are so exaggerated that they incite feelings, both positive and negative–that is the power of creative narrative.
No matter what feelings they may provoke, they are an instrument of humour and should be treated as such. Life will be a bore without them as they offer a different lens to analyse critical issues.
“Humour brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding” (Repplier, 2005).