Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mugabe and Cholera

Bertrams’ cartoon presents the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, standing alone in a puddle of contaminated water. Zimbabwe has experienced an outbreak of cholera that has claimed thousands of lives, infecting millions more who are afraid to drink the water. Mugabe, when confronted by other national authorities, stated that the epidemic was over, but evidently the country and its people are still struggling.

The minimal nature of Bertrams' cartoon is one of its defining features. The viewer sees only five items: water, Mugabe, a skeleton, a cup, and a title. By taking approach, Bertram makes the message streamlined and simple to understand. The viewer is led to a central idea: Mugabe is somehow responsible for this cholera accident.

Does Bertrams’ image blame the outbreak on Mugabe himself, much in the same way Mugabe blames Britain for the outbreak? Or, does it ask if Zimbabwe’s leader is functionally causing more harm than good? The defensive nature of some of Mugabe’s responses to domestic and international criticism about the cholera outbreak in his country suggests that he is a man who has more fear of being removed from power than genuine concern for his fellow citizens.

Bertrams’ work can bee seen in the Het Parool, an Amsterdam based newspaper. Bertram's work can also be seen on slate.

Kirk, Chris, and Jeremiah

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