A distinguished cartoonist Godfrey Mwapembwa, often called his pen name Gaddo, has revealed that he was sacked by one of the country’s foremost papers, the Daily Nation, without concrete reasons.
According to him, he had resumed work after taking a short break only to receive a sack letter without no concrete explanation. Gado, one of the country’s most famous cartoonists, is known to always poke fun at the upper class or superiors in the country.
On his website, he is described as
The most syndicated political cartoonist in East and Central Africa. From terrorism and deforestation to Aids and corruption which have caused controversies.
The sacking of the esteemed cartoonist has drawn condemnation from human rights campaigners across the world. For instance, Europe’s director for Human Rights Watch moments after the news of the sack hit the internet, tweeted one of Gado’s cartoons dealing with freedom of expression.
He also made reference to a detailed write up which tells the tale behind his sacking.
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) March 9, 2016
Following this, reputable media organizations all around the world have joined the human rights campaigners in tweeting works of the acclaimed Kenya-based cartoonist, attacking his sack from The Daily Nation newspaper:
— Ben Phillips (@benphillips76) March 10, 2016
Kenya Union of Journalist (KUJ), of which he is also member, has railed at the recent sackings of journalists who say things as they are.
The Union said last month that within two months, four senior editors have been laid off for no solid reasons and made to pay the piper, as papers do everything to be in the good graces of the elite in the country.
His cartoon have been known to tackle the extension of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni term to a fifth term, in an election that was criticized by the country’s oppositions and foreign observers for being done in an intimidating atmosphere.
— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) February 24, 2016
Godfrey Mwapembwa’s work has made him renowed not just in Kenya, he around the world. On arrival from a sabbatical he had gone following what he termed was “discomfiture with his works,” he was hit with the hot stone.
After his sack, the cartoonist disclosed the moment he was handed the sack letter he had shades of shock on his face. He felt betrayed and blank when during a meeting early March, Gaddo found out that the Nation Media Group would not be renewing his contract.
According to him, his mixed feelings of disbelief and betrayal weren’t that it happened, but how it all happened.
He told the media that his being shown the exit doors of the Daily Nation was prompted by political reasons and as a consequence he is going to file a case against Daily Nation over what he described as “the unlawful termination” of his contract.
He explained that he had just drawn a cartoon in another publication of then-Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, which did not show him “in a good light” and was told to take break for this to cool off.
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The East African Newspaper, one of NMG’s regional publications, had run his cartoon, which mocked Tanzania and Jakaya Kikwete.
In the cartoon, Kikwete was almost naked in a restful mood, eating grapes listlessly from the hand of one of seven beautiful women. It was drawn in a very Roman setting and each of the women depicted one of seven flaws that the Tanzanian government was being blamed for.
The cartoon was smartly funny, presumptuous and sarcastic. It was apparently the most direct attack at Kikwete’s government, which made the authority to respond promptly.
The East African was forcibly closed, with the official version of events being that the paper had run afoul of the country’s registration laws.
Following this, his editor at the newspaper recommended he take a break off – he’s a contract staff and the terms of the contract stipulated that he will provide cartoons from then to end of July 2016. But the paper couldn’t endure to July, as it offered him a letter saying it no longer wanted his services in February.
The paper claims they terminated the contract without any misunderstanding. However, the cartoonist insists he was sacked for political reasons.
According to him, the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to frowning at his work.
Gaddo, who is Tanzanian, revealed that the political condition in Kenya as of yet does not have a place for people like him who lash at foul politics. He said he is out to guard the integrity of freedom of speech.
He remembered when aides of the Kenya’s deputy president placed a call to him telling him how his caricature rubbed them in the wrong spots.
He answered them, saying:
I am independent – I will not be told what to draw and not draw.
He has made a series of cartoons to portray the injustices.