Sunday, March 29, 2009

Zimbabwe’s Domestic Problems?

The 2008 Zimbabwe election was a problematic affair. Allegations of voter intimidation choosing between Robert Mugabe (represented on the right) and Morgan Tsvangirai (represented on the left) were quite prevalent. In the wake of all this controversy, it seems a compromise was made. Mugabe was and still is the president. Tsvangirai, the competition, was given the formally retired position of Prime Minister. Interestingly, the Prime Minister will be doing most of the ground work, but Mugabe will always have the final word.

Editorial cartoonist Yalo compares Zimbabwe’s power struggle with a familiar domestic idea. Tsvangirai is relegated to the attire (as well as the grunt work) of a housewife. Meanwhile, Mugabe is quite literally wearing the pants in this situation. His actions in the image convey a poorly veiled attempt at appearing amiable while still commanding authority.

At a quick glance, seeing the background colors Yalo presents, with its soft blends of yellow and red, or green and white, our eye can focus more closely, perhaps, on the contrasting dark figures of Morgan and Mugabe, who are the significant objects being depicted in the cartoon. And in this depiction, these men seem real. Yalo’s realism, whether it is the round face and thick lips of Tsvangirai, or the wrinkles and slouch of Mugabe, attempts to portray their distinct physical features, and we are thus drawn to the cartoon for its exacting representation of these two figures who have appeared more regularly in the news.

Note: Sifiso Yalo creates cartoons for The Sowetan, a South African newspaper. His work can also be seen on his website:

--Chris, Jeremiah, Kirk

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